ZIMBABWE is projected to import 2,508 (TWh) of power in 2018, while consumption will soar to 8 600TWh on the back of rising demand, a latest survey by think tank BMI Research shows.
By Tinashe Kairiza
The country, which has been battling to generate sufficient power to meet its consumption needs, has been relying on imports, particularly from neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique.
In May this year, Eskom — South Africa’s power utility threatened to switch off Zimbabwe from its power grid over USS$43 million arrears in unpaid imports supplies.
Zimbabwe also owed Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique money running into millions of dollars in arrears for power imports.
The BMI report shows that Zimbabwe will generate 5 686TWh in 2018, falling short of its power requirements.
Next year’s power output will surge, buoyed by the completion of the Kariba South expansion project, which is expected to contribute an additional 300MW on the national grid.
According to the survey, power generation is expected to surge to 7 635TWh in 2022, as new projects feed onto the national grid, with consumption swelling to 10 000TWh, propelled by demand, particularly for industrial consumption.
By 2020, Zimbabwe is projected to import at least 2 508TWh, while consumption will soar to 9 7000TWh.
Between 2018 and 2026, said BMI, Zimbabwe will not install new power generation plants with significant generation capacity, owing to limited funding.
“Hydropower will be the main source of domestic electricity output in Zimbabwe over our forecast period to 2026, which will be cemented by the commissioning of the Kariba South Hydropower expansion project in 2018.
“Thermal power will be hampered by technical faults and coal feedstock issues, while new projects stall because of a lack of funding. Zimbabwe will remain reliant on electricity imports from neighbouring South Africa to ensure power supply stability,” said the research think tank.
Thermal power output in 2018 is forecast to increase to 2,3TWh and surge to 3,1TWh by 2026, as existing plants return to operation, on the back of improved feedstock.
“The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) was reported in November 2017 to be reviewing a draft contract for the refurbishment of the Bulawayo thermal power plant. A loan of USD87mn had been secured from the India-Exim Bank in 2016 by the government.
“The project has, however, not started and only one bid had been received from the tender in 2017. This further underlines our bearish outlook for new thermal power projects in Zimbabwe,” BMI said, noting that Zimbabwe’s power utility — Zesa was positioning itself to reduce reliance on imports.
“Zimbabwean electricity supplier, Zesa, has stated that it was able to reduce electricity imports to 250MW during times when the 100MW Dema diesel-fired power plant is operational. Zesa has been trying to rely more on domestic generation sources more as it was reported in October 2017 that it owed South African utility, Eskom, US$100 million for imports. US$40 million of this is allegedly in arrears.
“In order to ensure a higher level of power security, the government has lifted fuel import duties for the Dema power plant. This is because of Zesa wanting to avoid getting its electricity import supply from South Africa cut off due to high debt levels,” said BMI.
Zimbabwe’s daily power consumption stands at 1 400 MW against a generating capacity of 980MW.