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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

Zimbabwe Power Utility’s Deal With Namibia to Result in More Electricity Outages

August 23, 2008

Text of report by privately-owned weekly newspaper The Zimbabwe Independent website on 21 August

[Report by Paul Nyakazeya: "Zesa deal condemns Zim to darkness"]

As if the current frequent power-cuts were not enough, long- suffering Zimbabweans are set to spend even more on candles and firewood as Zesa [Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority] increases power-cuts.

The power utility needs to export the power saved through load- shedding to Namibia as re-payment for the US$50 million loan Zimbabwe received in a Power Purchasing Agreement from NamPower earlier this year.

Information gathered from Namibia and Zesa this week shows that power-cuts will be a long-term feature until Hwange Thermal Power station is fully refurbished.

Under the deal signed between the two countries when President Robert Mugabe visited Namibia in March last year, Nambia would receive 180 Megawatts for a minimum of five years as part of a power purchasing agreement with Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Company (Zetco)’s holding company, Zesa.

The US$50 million would then be used to refurbish and expand Hwange power stations to levels that would eventually result in a “significant” reduction in power-cuts throughout energy-crisis hit Zimbabwe.

The plan was to have the last of the four generators fully repaired by August this year. The four generators at Hwange are capable of generating a total of 480MW, but have operated erratically as Hwange struggles to cope with frequent equipment breakdowns and coal shortages. In fact, Zimbabwe has failed to refurbish Hwange power station with the loan so that it can increase electricity generation to serve the country and Namibia.

Up to US$2 billion is required to install new equipment and expand production at the country’s two main power plants in Hwange and Kariba to meet increased industrial and domestic demand.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing debilitating power-cuts due to the declining capacity of its aging power plants, which have been starved of new investment as the country battles severe foreign currency shortages.

Businessdigest understands that the deal between NamPower and Zimbabwe states that Zimbabwe will “meet its other part of the bargain” regardless of the electricity generation in the country.

“If they (Zesa) cannot generate the power to supply us, they still must find the power elsewhere to fulfil their part (of the agreement),” NamPower managing director Paulinus Shilamba told the media recently.

Namibia started receiving power from Zimbabwe in January this year, as Hwange power station was hit by breakdowns. Cutting power to Namibia was not an option.

Regional power utilities have also reportedly been progressively reducing supplies to Zesa Holdings.

The reduced supply from the region has also piled pressure on Zesa which has been unable to produce enough electricity for the country due to poor capitalisation and obsolete equipment.

Zesa is said to be getting about 100MW from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique and 50MW from Snel in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Initially Zesa was getting 150MW from Cahora Bassa but the supplies were reduced due to non-payment.

Zesa is generating about 800MW monthly and adding up imports of 150MW, the country is getting 950MW against a demand of 1 850MW. An undisclosed amount is sent to Namibia. This gives a shortfall of about 900MW which means at any given day half of the country will be in the dark.

Industry has been particularly hard-hit by regular power outages, which have caused a decline in production and contributed to an economic crisis and escalating political tensions over Mugabe’s 28- year rule.

Originally published by The Zimbabwe Independent website, Harare, in English 21 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.