Power crisis needs urgent attention

(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

 

Zimbabwe’s power crisis is set to worsen after the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA)  ordered the closure of  Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station  until January next year due to water shortages.

ZRA, which manages the Zambezi River waters and maintains the Kariba Dam complex on behalf of the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia, said the Zimbabwe Power Company, a power generation unit of ZESA Holdings, has used more than its water allocation.

In suspending power generation at Kariba South Power Station, ZRA CEO, Munyaradzi Munodawafa said if the current water utilization above allocation continues , the remaining water  for power generation  at Kariba (live storage) will run out by mid-December 2022 or much earlier.

“Guided by the Water Purchase Agreement  and the provisions of ZRA Acts as well as the Agreed Operational  Framework  under the Joint Technical Committee, where the authority and  the two Kariba power generation utilities  are obligated and have agreed to sustainably  operate the reservoir, ZRA is left with  no choice but to firmly guide that ZPC immediately ensures that  generation activities  at the  Kariba South Bank  Power Station are  wholly suspended  henceforth, until January 2023 when a further review of the substantive hydrological  outlook at Kariba will be undertaken.”

This means ZESA will start to impose  a painful load-shedding .

There  is no doubt, the power crisis will undermine economic recovery if the crisis is not resolved.

The bout of rolling blackouts  would cost the economy billions of dollars and also heaping miseries on consumers.

Zimbabwe is still recovering from recent economic contractions  recorded between 2019 and 2020.

Business leaders  have constantly said they feel the heat of power cuts as they are forced to use expensive generators.

The crisis, which means the power utility will be generating less than 1000 megawatts (MW) daily after the closure of Kariba power station,  comes at a time when ZESA already lacks the capacity to meet a national demand of about 1 850MW.

This means Zimbabwe will be forced to import more power, which will come at a huge cost because regional power utilities  including Eskom of South Africa   are currently battling power shortages.

However, it should be important to  note that the power crisis facing Zimbabwe is largely due to poor planning on the part of ZESA.

The power utility has also been grounded by corruption, according to a recent forensic audit.

It should also be noted that ZESA  has been over the years denied  a viable power tariff to sustain its operations.

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