Electricity sufficient to support command agriculture programme-ZERA

Electricity sufficient to support command agriculture programme-ZERA

HARARE, August 30 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has capacity to generate enough electricity to support the country’s command agriculture programme, which aims to produce two million tonnes of maize by placing 200,000 hectares of dry land under irrigation, an official has said.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) chief executive Gloria Magombo recently told an agribusiness conference that the country’s generating capacity is sufficient to meet the anticipated increase in demand by the agriculture sector.

The power situation in the southern African nation has stabilised of late, largely due to sustained imports and a drop in demand from 2,200MW to 1,450MW as industrial capacity continues to decline in a deteriorating economy.

Statistics from the power utility on Tuesday showed that the country was generating 1 040MW locally, augmented by imports of 350 Mw.

“Domestic consumers use up to 33 percent of the country’s electricity while agriculture only takes up 7 percent. Industry and mining take up a combined 18 percent,” said Magombo.

Magombo said taking into account the various projects currently being undertaken to increase generation capacity “demand from the agriculture sector would remain fairly limited to between 6 percent and 7 percent of total power production.”

Zimbabwe is in the process of expanding the capacity of its Kariba Hydro Power Plant by 300 MW while rehabilitation of the country’s several small thermal stations is already under way.

A number of other projects, including the $1,3 billion upgrade of Hwange to increase its generation capacity by 600MW, are in the pipeline and authorities expect the country to be self reliant by 2019.

Magombo urged the farming community to adopt renewable energy and improve energy efficiency to ensure security of supply.