Maputo — The Chicamba and Mavuzi power stations, in the central Mozambican province of Manica, will be rehabilitated as from this month, in order to increase their generating capacity from the current 63 megawatts to 86 megawatts.
These two power stations are owned by the public electricity company EDM, and their rehabilitation will cost about 133 million US dollars. The work is being largely financed by a Swedish grant of 47 million dollars, channelled through the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), a soft loan of 50 million euros (about 67 million dollars) from the French Development Agency (AFD), and a commercial loan of 18 million euros from the German development bank, KFW.
Speaking on Thursday, at the launch ceremony for the project, held at the Chicamba power station, President Armando Guebuza said it forms part of the government's measures to increase access to electricity for households and for economic and social development projects.
“Although we have recorded a substantial increase in the rates of access to energy, we are still granting major priority to this fundamental input for the fight against poverty”, said Guebuza. “Indeed, these significant advances inspire us to continue, even more decisively in the electrification of an ever larger number of places, thus tearing down the darkness”.
Chicamba and Mavuzi were the main electricity generating structures in Mozambique prior to the construction of the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi, but they have not benefitted from rehabilitation in decades.
Mavuzi is 65 years old. It was rehabilitated in the early 1990s, after it had been sabotaged by the Renamo rebels during the war of destabilisation. As for Chicamba, it has never benefitted from any rehabilitation at all during its 46 years of existence.
The chairperson of the EDM board, Augusto de Sousa, said the two power stations had been crying out for rehabilitation, since “all the equipment is obsolete and is no longer produced, which endangers the lives of the workers and the power stations themselves”.
With the increase in generating capacity to 86 megawatts, he added, the two power stations could supply most of the requirements f Manica and Sofala provinces, which currently consume about 96 megawatts.
The rehabilitation work will take two and a half years, and will be undertaken by a Franco-Norwegian consortium of the companies Cegelec, Rainpower and HydroKast.
EDM has promised that the work will not compromise the normal supply of power in the central provinces, except for a two week period when there could be general power cuts.
Over the past five years, Mozambique's electricity consumption has grown by 14 per cent. Sousa said this is much higher than the average three per cent increase in the countries of SADC (Southern African Development Community).
But to meet its needs, Mozambique needs to add generating capacity of 80 megawatts a year. Sousa pointed out that this means building the equivalent of the Chicamba and Mavuzi stations every year.
The national electricity grid now has 1.2 million connections, benefitting about six million people out of a total population of approximately 23 million, a coverage rate of 26 per cent.