17 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Power Deficit, Govt Looks to Private Sector

THE government has called on private businesses to help augment the country's diminishing power production capacity through exploiting avenues opened by its new power generation policy.

Deputy energy minister, Munacho Mutezo told a Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) meeting in Mutare last weekend that power output from traditional plants stood at a mere 1,500 megawatts against a daily demand of 2,000MW.

"I appeal to you to take advantage of the liberalisation of the Electricity Act to allow independent power producers to come aboard," Mutezo said, adding, "You are guaranteed that your product will have a ready market."

Mutezo said government was anticipating 120MW from small hydro-power projects in Manicaland province alone.

He said government was also looking for partners to supply 100MW solar modulators which would produce 300-400MW in the medium term.

"Solar is a viable option that may take us 18 months to have power production," he said.

The perennial power deficit has been caused by obsolete machinery which Mutezo said have outlived their life spans.

"The country's national grid needs rehabilitation. Most of our machines have completed their life cycle," said Mutezo.

He said there was need for government to develop power capacity generation by 900 megawatt by 2018.

Mutezo said this could be achieved through use of renewable sources of energy which can supply additional 300 megawatt by 2018.

"In order to increase national power supply, government is focusing on rehabilitation of infrastructure to regain lost capacity utilisation as well as improving liability of the equipment.

"We have restored six units at Hwange to increase production. Zimbabwe Power Company is working on units and auxiliary equipment to increase output to 700 megawatts from 600 megawatts," said Mutezo.

The deputy minister said the maintenance of Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo thermal power stations would generate an additional 90 megawatts.

There are five mini hydro projects underway in the country namely Gaerezi, Ruti, Nyamhingura, Chipendeke and Pungwe which are expected to be completed by 2015.

Mutezo also said government would also be banking on the Chisumbanje Ethanol Project which is expected to supply 18 megawatts once the power line has been commissioned by end of this month.

Zimbabwe's power woes are well documented.

Power supply problems have crippled the manufacturing and agriculture sector while most households endure lengthy periods without electricity.


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