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New hydro power policy for Zimbabwe

5 November 2007 – Cde Mike Nyambuya, minister of energy and power development in Zimbabwe, has said that the new hydro policy of the government will allow mini hydro generation on all new dams.

He said this move would complement power generation from big power stations and contribute toward foreign currency savings.

According to the minister, seven mini hydro schemes have recently been constructed with capacities ranging from eight kilovolt to 700Kv.

"Another 1,4MW power station is being installed at Manyuchi Dam in Mwenezi District in Masvingo," he said.

Aging power station infrastructure has lead to a reduction in generation capacity said Nyambuya.

"There has been no meaningful investment in generation since 1987 when Hwange Power Station Stage II was commissioned."

All four of the Hwange power station units need to be overhauled and are long overdue for a service.

"If we were following the right procedures, each unit was supposed to be overhauled after five years. However, the sad situation is that Unit One was last overhauled in 1996, Unit Two in 1997, Unit Three in 1995 and Unit Four in 1996. You can see that all the units are long overdue for maintenance. Such projects are capital and foreign currency intensive," he said.

Kariba power station, while running smoothly, was not operating at full capacity due to reduced water levels in Lake Kariba.

Nyambuya said the government was making moves to become self sufficient in terms of power generation by, among others, a 300MW expansion at Kariba and a 600MW expansion at Hwange. He continued that the government had short, medium and long terms plans for improving power supply in Zimbabwe, including a deal with Nampower to refurbish the units at Hwange and increase capacity by 480MW.

He said the government was in discussions with an investor who had expressed interested in the Gokwe North project as a BOT (build, operate, transfer) project.

Zimbabwe imports 35% of its power requirements. However, foreign currency shortages have seen the country battling to pay for these power imports, resulting in massive electricity shortages.