September 9, 2008

Zimbabwe Said Increases Power Exports to Namibia

Text of report by state-owned Namibian newspaper New Era website on 8 September

[Report by Petronella Sibeene: "More Power From Zim"]


The power purchase agreement signed between Namibia and Zimbabwe continues to bring more power to Namibia, with 40 megawatts more flowing in, an increase from 80 megawatts to 120 megawatts since end of last month.

National power utility, NamPower, confirmed to New Era on Friday that the agreement is on course and Zimbabwe through its Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has since last month increased its export to Namibia by 40 megawatts from 80 megawatts.

Under the deal signed between the two countries, Namibia will receive 150 megawatts for a minimum of five years as part of a power purchase agreement with Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Company (Zetco)'s holding company, Zesa.

The US$40 million provided by Namibia would be used to refurbish and expand Hwange Power Station.

The four generators at Hwange are capable of generating a total of 480MW, but have operated erratically as the station struggles to cope with frequent equipment breakdowns and coal shortages.

The first 40 megawatts from Zesa started flowing into Namibia on January 3 this year, with the additional 40 being imported from June and the latest by end of last month.

The remaining 30 megawatts that will fulfil the agreed quantity for a period of five years will start flowing in before end of year, NamPower said.

The imports take place amid reports that Zimbabweans have to be subjected to blackouts most of the time because that country has to save electricity to export to Namibia given the binding agreement.

NamPower Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager, John Kaimu, said the increase in power supply from Zimbabwe has come at the right time as Namibia experiences a drop in the generation capacity from its dependable Ruacana Hydro Power Station.

Being a seasonal power station, during September, the generation capacity of the station goes down as the water level or flow in the Kunene River also drops.

During this period, NamPower collects water in its dams for hours before it releases it to run the turbines.

Kaimu said the Kunene River water inflow stands at 62 cubic metres per second, making it difficult to run the turbines at the station. Three months ago, the inflow stood above 300 cubic metres per second.

"We are collecting water until a certain level and release it for hours to run turbines. We cannot run all the generators the entire day," Kaimu said.

The seasonal power generation plant continues to constitute 63 per cent of the country's generation capacity contributing 240 megawatts of the country's 384-generation capacity.

"We are importing more from other countries," Kaimu said.

Originally published by New Era website, Windhoek, in English 8 Sep 08.

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