THE Zimbabwe Power Company expects to conclude the funding agreement with China Export and Import Bank for the expansion of Kariba South hydropower plant before the end of this year. China's Sino Hydro won the bid to expand the electricity generation capacity of ZPC with expansion expected to cost about US$400 million. The station has installed capacity for 750MW. The power generation company is also working on a contract for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station and the power utility expects to complete the contract by year end.
Both initiatives are aimed at addressing the country's yawning power deficit with current reliable generation capacity standing at 1 200 megawatts against demand at peak periods of 2 200MW.
Expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station will add 300MW while Hwange Thermal Power Station will bring a further 900MW to the national grid in what should help ease the deficit.
ZPC managing director Mr Noah Gwariro told Herald Business in an interview last week that both financial closure for Kariba South and the contract for Hwange could be concluded by December. Another Chinese company, China Machinery and Energy Corporation, won the bid for the expansion of Hwange Units 6 and 7. The capacity expansion project is estimated to cost US$1 billion.
"For Kariba South we are looking at reaching financial closure with China Eximbank before the end of the year. For Hwange we are still negotiating the contract (with CMEC)," said Mr Gwariro.
The Zimbabwean power generation company, a subsidiary of national power utility Zesa Holdings, is expected to bear 10 percent of the expansion project and other development costs.
According to ZPC, the two projects are expected to take up to 42 months to complete. But until then Zimbabwe will have to contend with current rolling power cuts to balance demand and supply.
The nationwide power cuts are already having severe negative implications on the already squeezed industry and there are fears the situation could threaten the survival of struggling firms.
Residents countrywide have not been spared as they endure excessive power cuts forcing households, industry and commerce to invest in expensive alternatives such as generators.
Imports, mainly from Mozambique, range up to 300MW, depending on source peak periods. Zimbabwe experienced 17 percent deficit on its requirements in the eight months to August 2013.
The country faces critical shortages as most of its generation stations' equipment is now very old and amenable to frequent breakdowns depriving consumers of consistent supplies.
Zimbabwe has not invested in new generation capacity and finds itself in between a rock and hard place in trying to resolve the crisis due to financial constraints.
Shortage of power has exacerbated the plight of industry, which is still recovering from the effects of a decade of economic downturn, precipitated by Western-imposed sanctions.