$1,3 billion for Hwange expansion

HARARE - Government needs $1,3 billion to increase Hwange Thermal Power Station (Hwange)’s capacity, Energy minister Elton Mangoma said.

He said implementation of the expansion project is critical in securing self-sufficiency and reliability of power supply.

“The adjudication process of the 600 megawatts (MW) Hwange expansion project has been completed and the project was awarded to a Chinese company, China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) and work is expected to commence before year end,” he said.

Under the build, operate and transfer contract, electricity utility Zesa Holdings’ subsidiary Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will temporarily handover Hwange to CMEC.

In turn, CMEC will expand the existing power station by 600 MW through financing and developing two new 300 MW units, boosting the station’s power generation capacity to a total of 1 580 MW.

Hwange is Zimbabwe’s biggest power plant with an installed capacity of 920 MW.

However, the plant spends prolonged downtime due to technical problems, poor maintenance and antiquated equipment.

Since 2007, Zimbabwe has been facing crippling power shortages with national peak demand estimated at 2 200 MW against available generation capacity of 920 MW with the shortfall being imported from regional power utilities.

Mangoma said government has also come up with a raft of measures to improve electricity generation including the introduction of a smart prepayment metering system.

He added; “ZPC and Sinohydro have concluded negotiations for the 300MW Kariba South Expansion Project and as a result, Sinohydro has commenced work at the site.”

Mangoma said a technical analysis by ZPC revealed that diesel generators have the capacity to reducing load shedding by 80 MW.

He said the 30 MW Gairezi small hydro-power plant was at design stage and would be launched this month.

Recently, government signed a memorandum of understanding with two Chinese companies, China Railway International and China International Fund to develop a 1 000 MW thermal plant.

“China Railway International came for site investigation in December 2012 and has submitted a draft contract for the project development,” said Mangoma.

On long term projects to mitigate the deteriorating power crisis, Mangoma said his ministry was considering the Batoka Great Inga Hydro projects for electricity generation expansion.

“Zambia and Zimbabwe have agreed to undertake this project on a Build Operate and Transfer basis. This was after Zimbabwe agreed to honour the EXCAPCO assets debt of $70,8 million. So far a total of $40 million has been paid towards the $70,8 million,” said Mangoma.

“The Zambezi River Authority called for expressions of interest to develop the Batoka on a Build Operate and Transfer basis.

“The response was extremely good with 25 companies showing interest and the majority from credible international organisations,” said Mangoma.

He said that the Great Inga project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had the capacity to produce 100, 000MW of power and, when established, would significantly aid the southern African region.

Mangoma said the restructuring of Zesa Holdings which was approved by Cabinet in March would make the power utility more efficient and responsive to the consumers. - John Kachembere

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