AfDB $9m power infrastructure rehab begins

HARARE - The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ZMDTF) has begun implementing the first phase of its $9 million Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (EPIRP) targeted at improving electricity supply.

The initial phase is one of three to be implemented under the fund’s overall $35 million project.

Since 2007, Zimbabwe has battled acute electricity shortages due to lack of investment in the power sector, ageing equipment and poor management of the sole State-owned power utility.

The southern African country’s power demand is estimated at 2 000 megawatts (MW) daily against available output of 1 200MW.

AfDB, which administers ZMDTF, said the objective of the project is to improve the provision of adequate and reliable power supply in an “environmentally sound manner” through the rehabilitation of the ash plant at Hwange Power Station and the sub-transmission and distribution facilities in the country.

Donor countries — including Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom — raise funds and AfDB manages on their behalf.

“Once complete, the rehabilitation of the sub-transmission and the distribution networks will improve system reliability and allow the restoration of supply services to about 22 000 customers in various neighbourhoods across the country that presently have no access to electricity services”, the regional development-focused finance institution said.

The sub-transmission rehabilitation component comprises the replacement of seven faulty power transformers and 16 faulty circuit breakers at 88 kV and 132 kV substations scattered throughout the country.

Transformers will be replaced at Norton, Mazowe, Atlanta (in Murehwa), Pomona and Stamford (in Harare), Mpopoma and Criterion (in Bulawayo) substations, adding a total of 345 MVA transformer capacity to the grid.

Circuit breakers will be replaced at Sherwood (near Kwekwe), Gweru, Zvishavane, Victoria Falls, Marvel (in Bulawayo), Kadoma and Zisco substations.

AfDB said the other works component of EPIRP whose contract has already been awarded is the rehabilitation of the distribution network throughout the country.

“This component will see the installation of over 500 pole-mounted distribution transformers, 280km of overhead distribution lines and about 20 km of underground cables”, the bank said, adding that the third works component being the rehabilitation of the ash plant at Hwange Power Station is at tender evaluation stage.

“This entails replacing various pumps, motors, pipes, cables and other accessories for the ash handling plant. There will also be a new Environmental and Social Management Plan for Hwange Power Station that will be based on a thorough audit of the plant and its impact on its environs,” said AfDB.

In addition to the power project, ZMDTF is also supporting the Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Project (UWSSRP) to the tune of $29,65 million, which will rehabilitate water supply and sanitation plants in the municipalities of Mutare, Chegutu, Chitungwiza, Harare, Kwekwe and Masvingo. - John Kachembere

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