Southern Africa: As Zimbabwe Struggles With Daily Blackouts, Zambia Declares Huge 1,000mw Electricity Surplus

Zambia's integrated power utility ZESCO has declared that the country how has surplus capacity of about 1,000 megawatts (MW) at a time the country is also enjoying an economic rebound.

Across the border however, Zimbabweans are struggling with daily power cuts country lasting several hours which have been blamed on breakdowns at its aged power plants.

ZESCO Managing Director Eng. Victor Mapani said currently the installed national generation capacity stands at 3,456.8 MW compared to a peak national demand of approximately 2,300MW.

He was speaking during a high-level panel discussion at the ongoing Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) meeting in Dakar, Senegal.

"We thus have a surplus of 1,156.8 MW that is available for trade within the interconnected SAPP network," Eng. Mapani said.

He also said that ZESCO was using internally generated resources to progress the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower (KGL) hydro project which was being constructed at a cost of approx.$2.3 billion and will be completed later this year in November.

"Currently four out of five units are already commissioned and running. We expect to commission the last 150 MW machine, unit 5 by November this year."

In Zimbabwe, the country has for years struggled with a crippling deficit as generates about 1,300 megawatts against peak-demand estimated at about 2,000 MW.

Installed generating capacity installed capacity of 2,240 megawatts cannot be exploited due to antiquated equipment and frequent breakdowns at power plants.

Currently power utility ZESA is subjecting users to prolonged blackouts due to breakdowns at the key Kariba and Hwange power plants.

"It is true that last week we experienced the worst in terms of load shedding," Energy Minister Soda Zhemu said in Parliament Wednesday after being challenged over the issue.

"That was occasioned by the failure of one of our units at Kariba Power Station. Unit 6 went out of the grid last week which produces about 125 megawatts.

"We also had problems with generation from Hwange Power Station where for the major part of last week, the station was running on two units but by the end of last week, two units had been recovered from Hwange Power station."

The government is however, modernising and expanding existing power plants and building new ones with financial backing from China with a view to becoming a net energy exporter as part of its plan to turn the country into an upper middle income society by 203.

Meanwhile ZESCO's boss said the availability of reliable electricity is underpinning the current rebound of Zambia's economy.

"Since we are able to meet national demand, we have seen Zambia's economy grow from a receding Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 to three (3) percent growth in 2021 across all sectors.

"With this background, we are ambitious that the national GDP growth will soon reach levels of (5) five to (7) seven percent in the next (3) three to (5) five years."

He added; "The stable economic growth has also seen year-to-year end inflation drop from 21 percent to 9.7 percent in the month of June 2022.

"Our service virtually services and supports all key sectors including mining, agriculture, commerce, tourism, health and education.

"We now hope to venture and exploit the transportation sub-sector too through establishment of charging points nationwide to back the evolution of Electric Motor Vehicles."

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