Kariba power expansion half-way complete, on course for 2018 target

Kariba power expansion half-way complete, on course for 2018 target

KARIBA, June 15 (The Source) – Zimbabwe is on course to meet its 2018 deadline for the completion of the Kariba south hydro power plant, with 48 percent of the work already done, an official said on Wednesday.

The $400 million project to add 300 megawatts to Zimbabwe’s power grid started in 2014 and is under construction by China’s SinoHydro.

The expansion of the Kariba hydro-plant is one of several projects Zimbabwe is pursuing to plug it power deficit. The country currently generates about half of its 2,000MW peak electricity demand. Zambia, which shares Lake Kariba with Zimbabwe, completed a similar expansion of its Kariba north plant in 2014. Officials have said the collapse of Zimbabwe’s mining and manufacturing industries has seen a 40 percent collapse in electricity demand to about 1,400MW currently.

“In terms of overall project progress, combining offsite and onsite civil and electrical works, we are at 48 percent as of May 25,” Kenneth Maswera, general manager of the Kariba South plant, told journalists during a tour of the site on Wednesday.

“We are now moving towards 50 percent. (By the) end of this month, we will be at 50 percent.”

Kariba, completed in 1962 with installed capacity of 750MW, typically generates about 300MW currently due to declining water levels. Zimbabwe’s other major power plant, the coal-fired Hwange station, whose six units were commissioned between 1983 and 1987, currently produces about 600MW against its installed capacity of 920MW.

Speaking during the Kariba site visit, Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri said Zimbabwe was on course to be self reliant in electricity generation by 2018.

Zimbabwe is importing power from regional suppliers, Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique and South Africa’s Eskom to reduce its generation deficit.

“We envisage a situation where, come 2018, there will be no need for imports,” Mbiriri said.

“We are hoping that we will be well ahead of effective demand. That will be very satisfactory, not the current situation where we are failing to meet demand.”

Mbiriri also revealed that China Africa Sunlight’s 600MW Gwayi solar power project was nearing financial closure, the process of completing all project-related financial transactions.

“Gwayi is the most promising. We were in China last week to finalise financial closure and we are confident we will bring that to finality soon,” Mbiriri said. “We expect work to start on the ground by year-end.”
China Africa Sunlight is a 50/50 joint venture between Zimbabwe’s Old Stone Investments and Shandong Taishan Sunlight of China.