Kariba South expansion on course

HARARE - Zimbabwe says work at the Kariba South hydro-electric plant is going ahead as planned despite earlier warnings that China Eximbank had withheld funds for the project until government clears its previous loan arrears.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the project — expected to add an additional 300 megawatts (MW) to the national grid at a total cost of $533 million — remained on course for completion in March 2018.

“As at June 30, 2015, an amount of $22 million had been disbursed, bringing the total disbursements to date to $101,8 million,” he said in his mid-term fiscal statement last week.

“The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has also contributed $14,4 million this year towards the project, bringing the total contribution by the parastatal to $50,9 million,” Chinamasa added.

In terms of the agreement signed between ZPC, a subsidiary of national power utility Zesa Holdings, and Sino Hydro Corporation, China Eximbank is to provide $355 million for the project while ZPC will contribute $213 million.

Indications on the ground show that excavations on Adits 1 to 4, as well as the power house pilot tunnel, coupled with construction of the upstream coffer dam have been completed.

However, construction of access roads, excavations on Adits 5 and 6, power house and intake area, manufacture of hydro-mechanical equipment and units 7 and 8 turbine and generator components are still work in progress.

The project, which is a vital component of government’s strategy to meet the country’s electricity demands of 2 200MW a day, will increase the total capacity at the power station from the current 630 MW to 930MW.

As of yesterday, the country was producing a total of 1 250MW.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing acute power shortages since 2007 due to lack of investment in the sector.

Most of the power stations in the country were constructed in the 1960s and are currently at advanced stages of dilapidation.

In an effort to plug the electricity shortages, ZPC recently announced plans to increase power output from the existing capacity by 520MW to reduce power deficits that have resulted in electricity rationing to balance supply.

Closing the gap between current generation and installed capacity at existing power stations will also involve re-powering small thermals at Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati and extending the life of Hwange Thermal Power Station.

The power stations are operating below capacity with Munyati currently generating only 25MW while the Harare plant generates 15MW. Bulawayo generates 22MW while Hwange and Kariba are generating 573MW and 630MW respectively.

Revival of the Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati thermal stations would add a further 310MW to the national grid while the possibility of developing the Batoka hydropower project, which can generate 800MW, would also contribute to covering the deficit.

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