THE Zimbabwe Power Company has secured a US$40 million loan from an Egyptian company for the construction of an electricity line that will run from Orange Groove in Mutare to Hotsprings in Marange. The construction of the power line is expected to increase diamond production in Marange. ZPC managing director Mr Julian Chinembiri said that diamond companies were getting 2,5 megawatts of electricity out of a requirement of 50 megawatts.
"The project is scheduled to be completed in 18 months and the construction of the line will increase power given to diamond companies in Marange.
"Diamond companies in Marange have been supplementing their energy requirements through generators hampering the industries' production as generators are an expensive source of energy," he said.
Energy and Power Development Minister Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire said the country was facing power shortages and there was need to find ways of effectively using the available power as well as resuscitate small thermal power stations .
He was speaking after touring the Harare Thermal Power Station to appraise himself with the problems facing the station.
"The equipment they are using is old and they are doing their best given the circumstances. This plant was commissioned in 1958. While we are waiting for the construction of new plants, we have to device ways of using the available power effectively.
"We also want to see how best we can source power from other countries. The whole region has a power deficit. South Africa also imports power," he said.
He said for the industry to function as envisaged by the Zanu-PF manifesto, there should be enough power generation.
Engineer John Ndiya who is in charge of the national control centre said Kariba is generating 500 megawatts instead of 750 while Hwange is generating 300mw instead of a potential of 920mw.
The small thermals are producing 65mw against an installed capacity of 375.
He said there is need to have an automated system in load shedding.
"We need computer equipment. As we speak, we are not able to see 50 percent of Harare so we sent our staff to go and manually switch off an area and sometimes we end up shedding areas which are not on the schedule and restore supplies when our person manages to switch off the targeted area," he said.
He said the power company was also facing challenges of brain drain as most controllers left the country for UK and Australia between 2005 and 2010 adding that they were in the process of recruiting back some of them.
He also said the power utility needs a number of power purchase agreements to augment the electricity supplies.
ZPC through the China Export and Import Bank loan, intends to expand the 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.