ZESA has assured the nation that the prevailing load shedding will come to an end by mid-year as the country’s power utility has embarked on ambitious programmes to address the situation.
Due to lack of investments in power generation programmes in recent years as well as the adverse effects of climate change, the country has of late been facing acute shortage of power.
Speaking after a tour of Hwange Thermal Power Station’s US$1,4 billion extension project by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government programmes Dr Joram Gumbo on Thursday, Zesa Holdings executive chairman Dr Sydney Gata said: “As Zesa, we are tackling load shedding quietly but very effectively and that perhaps within the next 100-Day Cycle Programme we could see an end to load shedding . . . we are embarking on very ambitious programmes and projects to put an end to this suffering.”
The next 100-Day Cycle Programme begins in April to July this year.
The 100-Day Cycle initiatives serve as the building blocks to the realisation of goals of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (October 2018-December 2020) and the subsequent attainment of objectives encapsulated in the Vision 2030.
The Cycle plan involves the segmentation of big projects into smaller, manageable and sharply focused milestones.
On average participating Government ministries, their departments, agencies and parastatals are required to implement five projects that have an impact on the livelihoods of ordinary citizens in 100-day timelines.
While Dr Gata had indicated during his address that a lot of initiatives were being rolled out by Zesa to end load-shedding, which at some point in 2019 prolonged to 18 hours a day, he declined to grant this paper an interview citing professional reasons.
In light of the power constraints, Zimbabwe has been importing electricity from regional power utilities such as Eskom of South Africa and Cahora Bassa Hydro Electric (HCB) of Mozambique.
However, at some point last year, Zesa could not import electricity from the regional power utilities as the country was not servicing its legacy debts for energy imports.
Last year, the country started honouring its obligation to Eskom which had ballooned to over US$80 million, a development which has seen Zimbabwe accessing new power imports.
The country has also started paying its debt to HCB.
As part of efforts to improve power generation in the country, Zesa Holdings through its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has also expanded Kariba South Hydropower Plant under a US$533 million investment.
The expansion programme, which also saw Units 7 and 8 coming on board adding a combined 600MW to the national grid and improving the plant’s installed capacity to 1 050MW.
However, the country’s major power station, Kariba, was at the moment experiencing constrained generation due to low water levels.
ZPC also plans to improve power generation in the country by rehabilitating its other existing power plants namely, Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare thermal power plants.
The plants were operating below capacity due to obsolete equipment.
Dr Gata said: “I also would want to emphasise that we remain committed to execute Government’s prime policy of growing our economy through implementing projects such as this one (Hwange Expansion Projects) which create vast opportunities for locals.”
The Government has since 2010 licensed over 70 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with a view to boost electricity supply but by July 2019, only 16 projects had been completed contributing 131,3MW to the national grid.
Recently the Government indicated its intent to revoke licences for projects that are failing to take off.