25 May 2018

Mozambique: Severe Drought Affects Electricity Generation

Maputo — The severe drought that has affected parts of Mozambique and the Southern Africa region in two last years has contributed to reducing electricity generation at the Cahora Bassa dam (HCB), on the Zambezi river, in the western Mozambican province of Tete.

Nelson Beete, executive director of Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company that operates the dam, on Wednesday told a meeting in Maputo of dam operators and water resource managers from the Zambezi basin, that "In 2015, we had an annual production of 15,000 gigawatt hours but last year we suffered a reduction to 13,000 gigawatt hours".

Nelson Beete noted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has classified the Zambezi basin as having the worst potential effects from climate change among the 11 largest basins in Africa due to the effect of rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.

He told the Maputo meeting that there is good cooperation, exchange of information and coordination between Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe aimed at the equitable use of water for the generation of energy, but he stressed the importance of better weather forecasting, in order to make more accurate predictions as to how the Zambezi basin will behave.

Beete said the 2015-16 hydrological year was the driest in the last 35 years in Southern Africa, which has led to a reduction in water storage capacity at the Kariba dam on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, Kafue in Zambia and Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. The reduction in capacity of the reservoirs behind the three dams was 12.7 percent, 42 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Zimbabwe and Zambia both rely heavily on the Kariba dam for electricity, and falling water levels at the dam raise the threat of deeper power cuts in the two countries. Mozambique relies on Cahora Bassa for the bulk of its electricity. Any reduction in Cahora Bassa's generating capacity would force the country to rely increasingly on more expensive sources of power.

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