THE authorities will take extraordinary measures, including the removal of all barriers hindering investment in the energy sector, to ensure that Zimbabwe does not face severe power shortages next year, President Mnangagwa has said.
This comes as top officials have said Zimbabweans can look forward to a bright Christmas as the country is expected to have enough electricity for the festive holidays due to the coming on stream of Hwange Unit 7, fresh power imports from Mozambique and reduced consumption from business and industry.
Writing in his column for this publication, the President said Government is intensifying efforts to boost power generation through a raft of measures, including funding the repair of antiquated generators at the Hwange Thermal Power Station and immediately opening up the sector to new investors.
He said Government will facilitate accelerated entrance of new players and enhance power generation from non-hydro power sources in a development geared towards climate-proofing electricity generation currently beset by water shortages at Lake Kariba.
“Extraordinary measures are needed and will be taken in the coming year. With the US$310 million, we now have to refurbish and replace old Generators 1 to 6 at Hwange, coupled with the coming on stream of Generators 7 and 8, early next year, we should see an appreciable improvement in power supply early in the coming year.
“We must now plan for our power generation and supply as if Kariba is discounted from our energy supply matrix, so we have at least 2 000 megawatts from non-hydro power sources. That way, we weather-proof our energy sector and with it, our whole Economy. I have already instructed Government to remove all and any entry barriers to new investments in the energy sector.”
President Mnangagwa said the irony of the current power shortages is that this challenge has been bred by success recorded in growing the economy and attracting new investments.
“The rapid growth and expansion in both mining and industry, coupled with new investment projects across sectors, has increased demand for power, created a clear mismatch between power generation and supply on the one hand, and power demand and distribution on the other.”
He said nature has also caused challenges at the Kariba hydro plants, which are Zimbabwe’s biggest source of power.
“As I write, Kariba’s power generation capacity has drastically fallen from its installed capacity of 1 100 megawatts to a mere 100 megawatts. Our capacity for thermal power has also fallen due to the aged six generators we developed soon after Independence.”
President Mnangagwa said he is pleased that in 2022, Zimbabwe rose to the occasion, “even registering remarkable gains in adversity”.
“Our economy is projected to grow by 4,6 percent in the year we are about to close. This growth rate is above the average in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
The Head of State said Zimbabwe’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was excellent as the vaccination roll-out strategy saved many lives that could have been lost.
While the conflict in Eastern Europe amply revealed global food insecurity, Zimbabwe used that conflict situation to horn and strengthen its food security systems, resulting in a bumper wheat harvest.
The President declared: “With the aggressive strategy we continue to pursue in climate proofing our Agriculture through investment in dam construction and modern irrigation facilities, I have no doubt in my mind that we will regain our bread-basket status in the next few seasons.”
President Mnangagwa said the national devolution programme has been positively felt right down to communities, which now have a direct role in drawing up priorities.
“Devolution Policy has enabled us to spread development evenly across all the Provinces which make up our nation, thus making sure no one and no community is left behind.”
Meanwhile, during an interview with Zimpapers Television Network Prime on Friday, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo said the coming in of 300MW from Hwange’s newly constructed Unit 7 will bring Christmas cheer.
She said Government is also seeking to develop wind farms to provide alternative and clean energy.
“There is a study which has now been done, a resource assessment for Mamina, where we can produce up to 500MW of wind power, and we have developers who are looking at that,” said Engineer Magombo.
“So, from a wind point of view, we have a mast which has been put up in Guruve.
“We are doing studies and we have received funding through the African Development Bank to do other wind sites so that, when we call for investors and say we want you to come and do wind, we will already have a site to offer.”
Engineer Magombo said this month, some industries will close for the Christmas and New Year holidays, reducing demand for electricity.
“Usually, they close between the 16th of December and the 15th of January, and it takes the pressure off the system,” said Engineer Magombo.
“If you look at consumption, we have 25 percent going to domestic; 25 percent going to commercial; we have another 24 percent, plus or minus, going to industry; and then mining gets about 21 percent, plus or minus. But that one usually stays on because, even if mines shut down, they still have to pump out water, especially during this rainy season.”