14 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Kariba Power Project Set to Begin This Year

Photo: Ed Mckenna/IPS
An electricity pylon being repaired.

THE construction of Kariba South Hydropower Station is likely to begin later this year, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma said yesterday. A Chinese firm, Sino Hydro, won the contract ahead of five other bidders to build two units at Kariba with generating capacity of 300 megawatts at a cost of US$368 million.

"The contractors are working on a detailed design (of the project) and they have indicated that this may take six to eight months, and then the actual construction will follow," said Minister Mangoma in an interview.

On the financial aspect, he said the funds for the project would be available by the end of next month.

"We are working on the financial closure which should be ready by end of March."

The project will be completed in four years.

The contractor will design the plant, procure materials and build the plant directly or sub-contract some of the work.

Minister Mangoma said bids for Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion were being analysed. The two remaining bidders are from China, including Sino Hydro and China National Machinery Corporation.

Sino Hydro has submitted a US$1,4 billion bid for the expansion of Hwange for an additional 600 megawatts.

Zimbabwe is currently generating 1 400MW against demand of 2 200MW at peak.

Power shortage has spawned rolling power cuts to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers of electricity. Fears abound that the shortage would worsen as economic activity improves.

Industry is running at an average of 44,5 percent production capacity due to a number of factors, chief among them lack of power and funding. Industrial capacity stood at about 57 percent last year.

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