Power statistics expose dire crisis
A NEW report has revealed shocking drops in Zimbabwe’s power output, pointing to a far worse economic crisis ahead.
The report by analysts at Econometer Global Capital showed electricity generation almost becoming grounded across Zimbabwe’s power plants, with Kariba’s 1 050-megawatt (MW) hydro facility likely to be the hardest hit due to a prolonged drought that has entered its second straight season.
Hwange Thermal Power Station, the country’s second largest, is likely to feel the effects of torrential rains and flash floods that hit northern Zimbabwe two weeks ago, swamping coal shafts and affecting production.
“Zimbabwe has a daily peak demand of 1 800MW but according to the Zimbabwe Power Company, generation is slightly over 300MW from its five power stations,” Econometer warned.
“The Kariba Power Plant, which has over the years been the biggest and most reliable source of electricity for Zimbabwe, has capacity to generate 1 050 MW but is now generating an average of less than 400MW. Hwange, the second largest source of power, is currently generating 147MW of its 920MW capacity. Other power stations — Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare — which have capacities of 90MW, 120MW and 25MW, respectively are currently unproductive,” said the report.
It warned government to intervene quickly.
Econometer said it was not healthy for companies to turn to alternative power like diesel-powered generators that are expensive.
In addition, shortages of fuel in Zimbabwe due to foreign currency shortages were abetting the industrial crisis.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has said government will pursue a proactive strategy in helping State power producer Zesa.
Under the plan, government will inject fresh capital into Zesa in the first quarter of this year.
“However, Ncube did not disclose the magnitude of the funds to be disbursed to warrant Zesa raising the red flag on whether the government is really committed to solving the matter and if they really have capacity to do so,” said Econometer.
“Zesa, which is choking under the weight of huge foreign debts, has been failing to maintain most of its ageing thermal power stations. This at a time the country’s main source of power, the Kariba Hydro Power Station, is operating at under a third of its installed capacity due to a severe drought, coupled with obsolete infrastructure.
“The manufacturing sector is relying on this most popular alternative — generators, which are expensive to run with diesel prices having shot up two weeks ago to $19,55, yet still limited in supply. Most companies have minimised their operating hours, which has curtailed their production capacity,” the report noted.
The government licensed over 30 independent power producers and the only challenge is country risk.
They are not able to attract any financing for these projects, stalling progress on getting proposed projects off the ground as heavy capital outlays are required.