Zambia Switches Off Zimbabwe

THE country’s perennial power outages could further worsen following disconnection of the Zambia-Zimbabwe interconnector on Tuesday by Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) of Zambia.

Zesco’s acting director for generation and transmission  told Zambian media that the utility had switched off Zimbabwe from the interconnector to protect local power systems from “external disturbances”.
This week most parts of the country faced increased hours of power outages despite a decline in power consumption characteristic in summer.
The local power utility however, maintains  that   energy transmission and generation could soon improve.
Zesa group spokesperson Fullard Gwasira yesterday declined to comment on the external disturbances which prompted the disconnection adding that power generation could improve due to a US$40 million  energy deal with Namibia.
He added that the disconnection had no “material impact” to the current electricity supply.
“Zesa Holdings is not in a position to comment on the responses from another utility although technical faults are not a unique phenomenon in the electricity industry, not only locally but internationally as well,” said Gwasira.
The country’s five power stations- Hwange (Thermal), Kariba (Hydro), Harare (Small Thermal), Munyati (Small Thermal) and Bulawayo (Small Thermal) are generating below capacity owing to viability problems.
Zimbabwe which shares the northern border with Zambia imports energy from Democratic Republic of Congo-based SNEL in order to meet a peak demand of 1950 megawatts. The country’s power stations can at full capacity generate 1050 megawatts.
This means at any given time of the day almost half of the country will be in darkness.
“It is important to realise that Zesa Holdings is fully realising the benefits of the US$40 million from Namibia in a win-win government to government agreement, as it is anticipated that by the end of 2008 electricity generation from the rehabilitated units reach 480MW by the end of the year and eventually notch maximum generation of 9500MW when stage 2 units have been rehabilitated. Plans for stage 2 refurbishment are well under way.”
Earlier this year Zesco disconnected Zesa from the interconnector following several days of blackouts in Zambia.