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Aerial view of Hwange Thermal Power Station


Massive load-shedding persists



ZIMBABWE is still reeling under massive power cuts despite an increase in water levels at Lake Kariba and recent efforts to ramp up electricity generation at Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7.


As of Thursday, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) was generating 810 megawatts (MW); with Hwange Power Station producing 442MW, whilst Kariba and Munyati produced 350MW and 18MW respectively, compared to around 500MW produced at the peak of the power crisis in December last year.

Whilst normalcy was expected to return following a rise in water levels at Lake Kariba, the situation has remained the same, with residential areas going for over 18 hours without power.

At Kariba, lake levels have been rising due to an increase in local rainfall activity, with inflows in the immediate streams and mainstream Zambezi River, closing at 478.14m (18.39% usable storage) on 20 March 2023, according to the Zambezi River Authority.

This week, Hwange’s Unit 7 was also added to the national grid and is seen ramping up power supply. Harare Thermal Power Station, whose production has been ranging between 0MW-11MW, is now generating electricity.

Rolling power cuts have been continuing.

Domestic electricity generation has been dogged by several challenges, including obsolete equipment and infrastructure, inability to attract significant private sector investment, and other financing instruments, leading to drastic load shedding.

According to statistics on ZPC’s website, the power utility produced 1 719 gigawatt hours (GWh), falling short of its quarterly goal of 2 490GWh by 30.96% due to numerous forced outages, in the fourth quarter of 2022. The power generation utility missed its 9 111GWh annual energy target for 2022 by 7.29%.

A report by the Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development on the supply and distribution of transformers in Zimbabwe presented on 2 March in Parliament by Binga South MP Gabuza Gabbuza showed that a total of 1 900 transformers were faulty and needed repairing.

However, while there are several reputable companies that are able to repair at least 3 000 units annually, their servicing plant is outdated, leaving the power utility in limbo.

As previously reported by The NewsHawks, Energy minister Soda Zhemu has also been taken to task by parliamentarians who are accusing him of painting a rosy picture of Zimbabwe’s power situation.

Early this month, Zhemu said the country has good potential to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, which will help in ending load shedding. Legislators however dismissed his explanation, highlighting he had repeated the same statement several times.

“The government has a whole policy that was launched in 2019 – the National Renewable Energy Policy. It articulates how we will transition from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy. We have very good potential for generation in Zimbabwe from solar; also wind is being ascertained as to what potential can be harnessed from wind. We also have the biogas that is also being articulated from the same Renewable Energy Policy,” Zhemu said.

“Mr Speaker, the same policy comes with some incentives,  especially to the private sector knowing that government alone cannot carry the load. The private sector has been invited to participate, especially in the area of power generation, which they can sell to the power utility as the off-taker or directly to consumers of their preference.

“So, we have a whole policy that speaks to how we shall transition to clean energy sources that are mostly renewable.”

He also said the country is exploring gas-to-energy projects that can be undertaken within the country, especially with the prospects of getting gas from the Muzarabani area.

However, this did not convince some legislators who said Zhemu has been reading from the same recycled script over the years. The power situation has continued to worsen, affecting businesses and residents countrywide. 

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