Prosper Ndlovu in Shurugwi
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said the country would not fully depend on hydro-electricity generation in view of the reality of climate change, which has forced a drastic drop in power generation at the giant Kariba Hydro-Power Station due to declining water levels.
Kariba Station is the major source of electricity in Zimbabwe following commissioning of Kariba South units last year, which were built at a cost of about $500 million.
However, declining water levels have seen local power generation reduced drastically at a time when thermal power generation is also weak due to ageing equipment. In view of this the power utility, Zesa, has resorted to massive load shedding which has seen some places experience power outages for more than 10 hours.
The situation has sparked public outcry with businesses also complaining that their operations are being negatively affected.
Addressing guests at the commissioning of the $62 million Unki Mines smelter plant in Shurugwi, President Mnangagwa said his Government was working on mechanisms to deal with the power supply issue and other utilities for the benefit of the economy and its populace.
“Measures to avail enablers and utilities such as electricity and adequate water supply are high on our priority list. Because of climate change we are fully aware that we cannot fully depend on hydro-electricity, we have to diversify,” he told the large gathering that attended the commissioning event at Impali Primary School.
“Fortunately, Zimbabwe is endowed with coal hence the expansion of Hwange Thermal Station units 7 and 8 is on schedule and will bring onto the national grid an extra 600MW when completed.”
While Zesa has pleaded with the consumers to reduce power usage to conserve the little energy sources, it has said measures were underway to facilitate increased electricity imports from regional producers.
The country is also exploring alternative energy sources such as solar, biogas among other renewable energy models with about 51 independent power producers’ projects having been approved by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera).
Other projects on the pipeline include the estimated $5,2 billion Batoka Gorge project being implemented in partnership with Zambia, 2 000MW Sengwa project in Gokwe and the gas-powered station proposal in the Lupane-Gwayi area of Matabeleland North