AfDB approves $17m Zim power project

HARARE - The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $17,52 million emergency power infrastructure rehabilitation project phase II (EPIRP II) aimed at providing reliable electricity to over five million Zimbabweans.

Alex Rugamba, AfDB’s director of energy, environment and climate change, said EPIRP’s objective is to improve the availability and reliability of electricity supply to the country’s 13 million population through the rehabilitation of generation, transmission and distribution facilities.

“The EPIRP II is the second energy-sector project financed through the AfDB-administered Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund,” he said, adding that “we chose to support this project because it is in line with AfDB group’s strategy for 2013-2022, which emphasises infrastructure development for inclusive economic growth, including green growth.”

Rugamba noted that the project also aligns with the bank’s new energy policy, whose objectives include supporting regional member countries to provide modern, affordable and reliable energy services to their populations and productive sectors.

EPIRP II involves electricity supply to critical social infrastructure facilities and to the inhabitants of the seven targeted areas of Zimbabwe ? Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, Harare and Hwange.
Together these areas have a combined population of five million people.

This comes after the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe for the last decade has severely affected all sectors of the economy, including infrastructure.

In this regard, the AfDB has identified the rehabilitation of key power sector assets as the fastest and least-costly option for restoring the country’s capacity to increase electricity supply to meet part of the current demand and enhance system stability.

Rugamba said phase I of the EPIRP was designed to improve the provision of adequate and reliable electricity in an environmentally sound manner.

“This will happen through the rehabilitation of the Ash Handling Plant at the Hwange Power Station and the power transmission and distribution facilities in the country.

“Phase II is designed to further the benefits gained under Phase I interventions and to address issues that are not covered in Phase I.

“When complete, Phase II will enable full utilisation of national produced capacity through restoration of transformer capacity,” he said.

Utilised installed capacity will rise from 1 237 MW in 2013 to 1 960 MW by 2016 ? with due attention to environmental safety and protection.

“The Hwange Power Plant will have improved environmental quality conditions as a result of the Phase II Project.

“The target beneficiaries — the general public, industries and institutions ? will benefit from increased firm substation capacity, more available and reliable electricity, reduced load shedding, more stable water supplies and the ability to ramp up operating capacity for industry,” said Rugamba.

He noted that the percentage of customers with access to firm transformer capacity at transmission level should increase from 32 per cent in 2013 to 63,5 per cent in 2016.

This will translate into both economic and social benefits as a result of reduced power outages due to transformer faults.

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