Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has started exporting electricity to regional countries especially Namibia, buoyed by increased production at the Kariba Power Station which came into life in March last year.
President Mnangagwa commissioned Unit 7 and 8, which were constructed at a cost of $531 million by China’s Sinohydro, resulting in an additional 300MW into the national grid. The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has confirmed that the new project has resulted in the country generating above target and exporting the excess power to NamPower, Namibia’s power utility company.
In a statement, ZPC said it surpassed generating targets for the fourth quarter of 2018 by 32, 67 percent and Kariba Power Station contributed half of the power. Of the power from Kariba, five percent was imported to NamPower. According to the latest production updates, that translates to between 25 and 30 MW per day.
“A total of 2,694.92GWh of energy was achieved in the fourth quarter of 2018, against a target of 2,031.35GWh. The target for the period was therefore surpassed by 32.67 percent. Hwange also surpassed its quarterly target by nine percent due to deferment of Unit 3 major overhaul to 2019. From the energy supply balance, we observed that Kariba Power Station contributed the most energy with a 50 percent contribution to the total energy production, and five percent of it was exported to NamPower,” said ZPC in a power update.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo confirmed the exports and added that the country was positioning itself to become a major power exporter in the region and fill the gap of power shortages faced by neighbouring countries.
“Throughout the year last year it has not been bad, even now. We were exporting to NamPower and we were even managing without importing from Eskom (South Africa), which means it’s good. The electricity outages that were experienced in various parts of the country at times weren’t because of shortages, they were caused by faults mainly to do with vandalism of infrastructure and storms,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the infrastructural development taking place in the energy sector, which entails expansion of the power stations as well as the various projects being undertaken by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) was likely to see the country exporting more power by 2030.
“The aim is that we want to reach a point that by 2030 we are aiming to be exporting power thus as a ministry we are working on getting solar energy on the national grid and putting in place a number of small hydro power stations such as the one we have earmarked at Tugwi-Mukosi to add power to the national grid,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said through power exports the country could rake the much needed foreign currency through exporting power in the region where the demand is high.
“The whole of Southern Africa can depend on us, if we complete our various projects. There’s a shortage of power, we are seeing South Africa doing a lot of electricity load-shedding. That means the market is there. For instance if projects like Batoka commence, we will be self sufficient as a country. The future is bright to enable us to export into the region as a country,” he said.
The proposed Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station is a 1 600 megawatts (MW) hydroelectric power station, planned to be on the Zambezi River across the international border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Dr Gumbo however, said the water levels in the Zambezi River have gone down and the situation was likely to impact negatively in the generation of power at Kariba hydro-power station.
“I think you are aware that water levels at the Zambezi are very low to the level that we want to ensure that it won’t disrupt our power generation, thus we will be managing our consumption. We are not getting enough inflows up the river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the water level is becoming low and low,” he said.