Zim makes huge sav­ing on en­ergy

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

ZIM­BABWE’S en­ergy im­port bill has dropped to about $1,2 mil­lion monthly from at least $48 mil­lion as ef­forts to in­vest in lo­cal elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion to un­der­pin the en­vis­aged eco­nomic growth be­gin to bear fruit.

En­ergy im­ports have over the years de­manded sig­nif­i­cant al­lo­ca­tions of for­eign cur­rency to meet do­mes­tic and in­dus­trial de­mand.

But fig­ures gleaned by our sis­ter pa­per The Sun­day Mail showed that elec­tric­ity im­ports have dropped from a peak of 400 megawatts per day to 50MW over the past few months.

Power im­ports gob­bled more than $300 mil­lion in 2017, putting ad­di­tional strain on the scarce for­eign cur­rency re­serves.

Min­istry of En­ergy and Power De­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of power de­vel­op­ment En­gi­neer Ben­son Mun­yaradzi said the coun­try did not im­port elec­tric­ity dur­ing this year’s fes­tive sea­son as lo­cal sup­plies proved ad­e­quate to meet de­mand. As of yes­ter­day, lo­cal power gen­er­at­ing units were feed­ing 1 433 MW into the grid, which is suf­fi­cient to meet cur­rent lo­cal de­mand.

New power projects, par­tic­u­larly the ex­pan­sion of Kariba South, are sig­nif­i­cantly push­ing Zim­babwe to­wards en­ergy self-suf­fi­ciency.

“At the mo­ment, we are no longer im­port­ing a lot of power as we used to. From a peak of around 400MW a day, now we im­port at worst 100MW, but nor­mally it is around 50MW. This trans­lates to a cost of $12 mil­lion a week to about $300 000,” said Eng Mun­yaradzi.

The ex­pan­sion project took place at a time when Zim­babwe, just like other Sadc mem­ber coun­tries, were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sup­ply con­straints, which prompted new in­vest­ments to se­cure fu­ture sup­plies.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa com­mis­sioned the $533-mil­lion Kariba Hy­dropower Sta­tion, which added 300MW to the lo­cal grid, on March 29.

The Kariba South project be­gan in 2014 af­ter the coun­try se­cured $320 mil­lion from the China Ex­port and Im­port Bank, rep­re­sent­ing 90 per­cent of the to­tal project cost. Gov­ern­ment, through the Zim­babwe Power Com­pany, fi­nanced the re­main­ing 10 per­cent amount­ing to $35,4 mil­lion. Si­no­hy­dro — a Chi­nese State-owned hy­dropower en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion com­pany — was sub­se­quently engaged as a con­trac­tor.

ZPC will, how­ever, take over full con­trol of the power sta­tion in two years’ time.

But the im­pact of the ma­jor project is be­gin­ning to be felt in the econ­omy as Gov­ern­ment is now sav­ing at least $45 mil­lion per month on its en­ergy bill.

Of the megawatts fed into the na­tional grid yes­ter­day, Kariba — con­sid­ered the work­horse — con­trib­uted the bulk at be­tween 460MW and 918MW, fol­lowed by Hwange (486MW), Bu­l­awayo (21MW), Mun­y­ati (17MW) and Harare (13MW). Av­er­age daily na­tional con­sump­tion is 1 400MW in sum­mer and 1 600MW in win­ter.

Gov­ern­ment is now fo­cussing on the 2 400MW Ba­toka Gorge Hy­dro­elec­tric Power Sta­tion, whose power will be equally shared be­tween Zam­bia and Zim­babwe.

Eng Mun­yaradzi said the scope of the Ba­toka power project will now be changed from a Pub­lic-Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP) to a Build, Op­er­ate and Trans­fer (BOT) model.

The African De­vel­op­ment Bank (AfDB) has since made a com­mit­ment to release $13 mil­lion that will be used to com­plete fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies be­fore the end of the first quar­ter of next year. Eng Mun­yaradzi said Gov­ern­ment will speed up the project as it has medium to long-term ben­e­fits.

“The (re­spec­tive) min­is­ters from the two coun­tries met in De­cem­ber and they agreed that they are go­ing to con­sult with their Heads of State on the project,” he said.

“The project will now be op­er­ated as a Build, Op­er­ate (and) Trans­fer. Ini­tially, we wanted to op­er­ate it as a Pub­lic-Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP).

“We have al­ready met Gen­eral Elec­tric, who ex­pressed their in­ter­est. How­ever, they are not the only com­pany that has ex­pressed in­ter­est, there are other Euro­pean and Asian coun­tries that have done so as well.”

Par­ties to the deal hope to en­gage a con­trac­tor for the project next year, af­ter which it will start in 2020.

The mega project is ex­pected to cre­ate more than 10 000 jobs.

“We are ex­pect­ing the project to cre­ate 10 000 jobs for the two coun­tries, but there will also be a re­quire­ment for ma­te­ri­als. For ex­am­ple, there will be high de­mand for ce­ment; this means in­di­rect jobs will be cre­ated.

“The plant will help the coun­try edge to­wards self­sus­te­nance in terms of en­ergy. “This fes­tive sea­son we did not even im­port any elec­tric­ity, we used elec­tric­ity pro­duced lo­cally,” added Eng Mun­yaradzi.

Upon com­ple­tion, Ba­toka will be the big­gest power gen­er­at­ing plant in Zim­babwe, fol­lowed by Kariba, which is cur­rently gen­er­at­ing 1050MW a day, and Hwange Ther­mal Power Sta­tion.

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