ZRA ups water allocation for electricity generation

OBERT SIAMILANZI

ZIMBABWE and Zambia are set to enjoy optimum power generation from the Kariba power plants after the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) this week resolved to increase water allocation from Lake Kariba by a further 29%.

ZRA, which manages Lake Kariba and the Zambezi catchment area on behalf of the two nations, increased its daily water allocation for power generation to 42 cubic metres, up from 30 cubic metres.

This will increase production capacity for both Kariba North and South power stations.

Only two weeks ago, ZRA increased its allocation to 30 billion cubic metres of water per day.

The announcement will come as good news for the two countries which have in the past suffered severe power shortages due to decreased water levels in the lake.

The world’s largest man-made lake has been under siege from climate change-induced low inflows which resulted in low water levels that in turn forced ZRA to significantly cut its daily allocations.

ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said: “The allocated amount is to be shared equally between the two power utilities, ZESCO Limited (ZESCO) and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), for their respective power generation operations at Kariba North Bank Power Station (KNBPS) and Kariba South Bank Power Station (KSBPS) for the remainder of 2021.”

“This 12 cubic metre increase in water allocation, attributable to the normal-to-above-normal rainfall performance, implies that the 2021 water allocation has been revised upwards from 30 cubic metres to 42 cubic metres to be shared equally between the two power utilities for their respective power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2021,” he said.

“The authority has made this revision in the water allocation in line with its mandate which includes undertaking quarterly hydrological reviews to inform reservoir operations at Kariba. These reviews take into consideration, among other factors, the seasonal rainfall performance. The authority will continue to undertake these quarterly hydrological reviews and accordingly inform its stakeholders and members of the general public,”

ZRA is a bi-national organisation mandated to contribute to the economic, industrial and social development of the republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe by obtaining the greatest possible benefits from the natural advantages offered by the waters of the Zambezi River (between Zambia and Zimbabwe) through the most economical and effective means of providing water for the generation of electricity and for other purposes which the contracting states may decide upon.

In recent years, ZRA has been forced to cut daily water allocation for power generation for Kariba South and North power plants due to receding water levels. This has resulted in reduced power generation, which in turn has adversely affected the two countries’ economies.

Recurring droughts in previous years significantly reduced water levels, resulting in ZRA cutting water rations for electricity production.

This saw massive power cuts in Zimbabwe and Zambia — the two countries which jointly manage the water body.

The power cuts had knock-on effects as companies were forced to cut production while the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments resorted to importing power from South Africa and Mozambique to avert industry collapse.

The declining water levels also posed a danger to aquatic life in the lake.