18 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Power Supply Not Guaranteed - Govt

Photo: Antony Kaminju/IRIN
Business by candlelight in Harare (file photo).

Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire says he cannot guarantee the nation of adequate power supplies to ensure successful implementation of Zim-Asset, especially in terms of the economic blueprint's value addition and beneficiation clusters.

Minister Mavhaire said major projects like Batoka Hydro Power Plant on the Zambezi River and expansion of Hwange Power Station would only be complete well after the Zim-Asset target in 2018.

Addressing students taking Joint Command and Staff Course Number 27 at Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare yesterday, Minister Mavhaire said "Zim-Asset is not the end of Zimbabwe".

He was presenting a paper on the prospects and challenges towards developing energy capacity to meet the demands of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

"Is the nation going to have adequate power to implement programmes under the Zim-Asset?" he asked.

"I cannot answer this question with a resounding yes, as I will not be truthful to you. What I can say is the situation will have drastically improved by 2018.

"Staff officers, Zim-Asset is not the end of Zimbabwe, there will be life after Zim-Asset. We have already started planning for the period after Zim-Asset, with plans at an

advanced stage for the construction of Batoka Hydro Plant on the Zambezi River and expansion of Hwange Power Station."

Zim-Asset, which is the Government's economic blueprint guiding its policies from 2013 to 2018 identified energy as an enabler for achieving maximum output expected from beneficiation of the country's resources.

Minister Mavhaire raised a cocktail of challenges which he said contributed to power outages over recent months.

"I want you to go out and explain to your relatives and friends that the major causes of what we are experiencing is because power projects are capital intensive, with even a small power generating plant requiring several hundred million dollars," he said.

"Local funding is inadequate -- we have to look for external loans. People are not paying their dues and sanctions led to non-procurement of critical spare parts."

Minister Mavhaire also blamed vandalism of infrastructure and brain drain as contributory to erratic power supplies.

He said Zimbabwe was experiencing power shortages despite its vast resources that could be used to improve the situation.

Minister Mavhaire said the country had 12 billion tonnes of coal reserves and vast reserves of methane gas, capable of being used to generate electricity.

He said the country's thermal power stations were operating below capacity because of illegal Western sanctions imposed on the country a decade ago.

Minister Mavhaire urged people to use renewable sources of energy such as solar power, while Government and experts explored wind turbine technology possibilities.

In the meantime, Minister Mavhaire said his ministry was instituting measures to improve electricity generation, such as licensing independent power producers.

Minister Mavhaire said Government was expanding two units at Kariba Power Station, with the first one expected to be commissioned in 2017.

When complete, Minister Mavhaire said, this would feed an additional 300 megawatts into the national grid.

He said they were also negotiating for more electricity imports depending on availability in the region.

Turning to fossil fuels, Minister Mavhaire said the state of the pipeline linking Beira in Mozambique and Msasa in Harare posed a major threat to uninterrupted supplies.

In this regard, he said, it was important to have a second pipeline.

When asked if he had voiced his concerns to Zanu-PF's Politburo or Cabinet before Zim-Asset was adopted, Minister Mavhaire directed The Herald to make a written request for an interview through his secretary.

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