Power cuts loom



Power cuts are looming after the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) slashed water allocation for power generation at Kariba hydropower station by 25% to 30 billion cubic metres (BCM) due to less than expected inflows from the upper Zambezi River catchment.

The 30BCM will be shared equally by the Zimbabwe Power Company on the Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station and ZESCO on the Kariba North Power Station.

Munyaradzi Munodawafa, the CEO of ZRA, a joint venture outfit owned by the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia to manage the Zambezi River waters and the Kariba Dam Complex, said flows upstream of the Zambezi River have started receding, affecting inflows into the Kariba Dam.

“With the 2022/23 rainfall season having effectively ended in April, the Kariba catchment is no longer experiencing any rainfall activities.

“As per normal trend following the end of a rainfall season, flows of the Zambezi River and its tributaries are now receding and this downward trend is expected to continue until the commencement of the next rainfall season (2023/24 rainfall season),” Munodawafa said.

Analysts warned that the impending power crisis could have devastating effects on all spheres of society and commerce.

They said it could hold back GDP growth.

“This could take a heavy toll on struggling Zimbabwe industries and domestic consumers,” the influential Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said this week.

It comes at a time Zimbabwe has been experiencing power stability in the past two months.

However, the momentum might soon be lost.

Already, power cuts are currently occurring all over the country, which is a sign that a power crisis is about to develop.

However, the government is now banking on Units 7 and 8 of Hwange Power Station, which were recently successfully synchronised to the national grid.

According to the government, with the new capacity, Hwange should be able to handle the base load, with Kariba only coming in during peak hours while staying within the allotted water ration.

However, units 1-6 at Hwange Power Station, which were commissioned between 1983 and 1987, are no longer reliable as they almost always break down due to old age.

They are also costly to run.

As was first reported by Business Times in April this year Munodawafa warned that ZRA would get tougher in July.

ZRA is now implementing the tough regime.

He said next year, it will be worse.

Munodawafa told Business Times in April: “…We will not be that strict until the end of the winter agriculture season in July. After July, we will be tough with ZESA and ZESCO. Next year, it’s likely to be worse.”

Over the past years, Zimbabwe was contributing about 20% of the inflows into Kariba Dam. There are only two rivers, which supply water into the lake. These are Sanyati and Gwayi rivers.

But, Munodawafa revealed that there was no contribution from Sanyati River while there were flash flows from Gwayi River.

On the other hand, 80% of the water into the Zambezi River comes from Zambia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other catchments in the north of the flood pains.



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