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Monday, 19 June 2017

'No more electricity cuts for Zimbabwe'

THE Government has assured the nation that the country will not be cut off by regional power suppliers after Zesa settled part of the debt it owed South Africa's Eskom and Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB).

Last month the two regional power producers, especially Eskom threatened to switch off Zimbabwe if Zesa had failed to settle an outstanding power import bill of $43 million by 31 May.

The country which consumes an average 1 400MW daily against a generation capacity of 980MW, imports about 300kW from Eskom while HCB chips in with 50MW.

In an interview on the sidelines of the commissioning of Hwange Power Station (HPS) ash handling plant on Wednesday, Energy and Energy Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said there was no need to worry about power shortages as the country has made the right arrangements to ensure that there is enough power.

"The impasse between us and our external suppliers of electricity was resolved, we made a substantial payment over the past weeks and we have agreed on payment terms for the remaining balance, our aim is to clear the debt," said Dr Undenge.

The minister, however, could not be drawn to reveal how much Zesa has paid to avert the situation. Due to foreign currency shortages, Zesa that had presented a payment plan which included paying $89 million between January and April failed to honour the agreement resulting in Eskom's threats to cut supplies. Zesa however, managed to pay $46 million with the payment plan including last year's arrears.

Dr Undenge described the electricity generation in the country as stable saying five units at Hwange Thermal Power Station were running, churning out 560MW with the sixth unit which was undergoing a major overhaul expected to be online in September.

"We are now at five units in service and today (Wednesday) we were producing 560MW which is quite commendable. We expect the resumption of Unit 6 which is going through a major overhaul to be back in service in September then we will further increase power generation.

"Yes, of course we have a deficit due to the fact that at Kariba Power Station the water levels are still low but improving. Last year our generation was limited to 285MW but the Zambezi River Authority increased our allocation of water so we are now producing at an average of 380MW," he said.

HPS has an installed capacity is 920 MW while Kariba Hydro is at 750 MW. Dr Undenge said the Government was prioritising local generation to reduce imports in the long run.

"Nationally we still have a deficit on a daily basis, the average is 1 500 MW but in winter that increases and that is the period we are in right now. We will supplement by importing from Eskom and Cahora Bassa to fill that deficit. We have been importing an average of 50MW from Hydro Cahora Bassa while from Eskom it varies. Our imports increase during the off peak period and we cut down during the peak period that's when we up our generation here."

Source: 'No more electricity cuts for Zimbabwe' (18/6/17)

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