Dark Days Ahead: ZRA delivers bad news to Zimbabweans


Zimbabwe faces looming power crisis in 2024 as Kariba Dam water allocation reduced

Zimbabwe is bracing for crippling power cuts in the coming year as the Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) has announced a reduced water allocation for power generation at the Kariba Dam.

This decision comes in response to poor rainfall, which has significantly affected water inflows into the dam.

The ZRA has allocated 16 billion cubic meters (BCM) of water between Zambia’s Zesco Limited and Kariba Hydro Power Company (KHPC) for power generation operations at the Kariba Dam in 2024. This allocation represents a significant reduction from the previous year when water allocation was slashed from 40 to 30 BCM due to reduced water inflows.

Munyaradzi Munodawafa, the CEO of ZRA, explained that the reduced water allocation was based on projections of below-average rainfall in the 2023/24 season. These projections were influenced by the increasing occurrence of El Niño weather conditions, which are expected to negatively impact rainfall across southern Africa.

Using the Kariba Inflow Forecasting System, which incorporates satellite rainfall measurements and numerical weather forecasts, ZRA conducted hydrological simulations. The results indicated a high likelihood of a below-average rainfall season, leading to reduced inflows into Lake Kariba. As a result, the volume of water available for power generation in 2024 is expected to be significantly impacted.

In light of this situation, power utilities have been advised to explore alternative sources of power to supplement generation at Kariba and mitigate any potential power deficit that may arise due to the lower water allocation.

Kariba Dam, a major man-made reservoir shared equally by Zimbabwe and Zambia, spans the Zambezi River. The hydroelectric power plant at Kariba, constructed by Italian contractors in the 1950s with an expansion project completed by Chinese contractor SinoHydro Corporation in 2018, has a capacity to generate 1,050 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

As of now, the country’s total electricity generation stands at 1,577 MW, with Kariba accounting for 925 MW of that capacity.

The impending power crisis raises concerns about the availability and reliability of electricity supply throughout Zimbabwe in the coming year. With reduced water allocation at Kariba Dam, the country will be heavily reliant on alternative power sources to meet the growing energy demands.

Efforts to diversify the energy mix and invest in renewable energy infrastructure may become more crucial than ever to ensure a stable and sustainable power supply for Zimbabweans. The government and relevant stakeholders must work together to address this pressing issue and explore viable solutions to mitigate the impact of the reduced water allocation at Kariba Dam.

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