LOSS of electricity imports from Zambia’s Zesco and from the Hydro Cahora Bassa power plant in Mozambique has disrupted power supplies in Zimbabwe early on Tuesday, resulted in the country losing half of its electricity supplies and causing loss of business and production.
Zimbabwe is already battling power shortages and had received a boost after South Africa’s Eskom agreed to supply it with 300MW of electricity. This had seen the struggling southern African country improve on power outages.
But a technical fault early on Tuesday affected power supplies for most parts in the country, including Harare and other major centres. This had forced some businesses to open late on Tuesday and manufacturers to incur additional costs in running generators while heavy power consumers had to wait for restoration of power supplies.
“The country largely experienced loss of power due to a system disturbance experienced leading to loss of Zesco and Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) power imports,” the Zimbabwean power utility, Zesa, said in a statement.
The system failure had also affected power supplies from the Kariba hydro-power station, leaving a major deficit in power supplies for the day although the Hwange coal thermal power station had not been affected. Zimbabwe is readying up a diesel power plant in Dema – near the capital Harare, and other initiatives to ramp up its power output in the next few years.
“Hwange Power station was however not affected because of the interventions which (the power utility) has been putting in place towards protection of generations from system swings,” Zesa said.
After the disruption, Zimbabwe was now “restarting” the Kariba power station and it is expected that power supplies to most of the areas affected by the power outages will be restored later today.
Zimbabwe also has smaller power stations in Harare and Bulawayo but these alone will not be able to plug any gaps in deficits in the event of disruption in supplies from regional suppliers or from the bigger power plants in the country.
Engineers say Zimbabwe’s power stations – which are being refurbished with help from Chinese funders – are now old and out-dated, urging the government to invest in new power stations and to pursue alternative sources of power such as solar and wind energy.
Zimbabwe currently produces about 1 200MW of electricity while it requires 2 200MW at peak. However, the government had asked heavy users of power to cut back on consumption in a bid to manage supplies while mining companies are having to pay a premium to minimise supply disruptions.-Fin24