Southern Africa has cut its power deficit to 3 000MW in the last year and will add another 27 000MW by 2018 as countries ramp up electricity generation to meet growing demand, an official with a regional power pool said on Thursday.

The region currently has a peak demand of 54 000MW against generation capacity of 51 000MW, narrowing the shortfall from 7 000MW a year ago as new power comes on stream and more people use energy saving bulbs, said Musara Beta, an analyst at Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

“What we are planning to commission in the next four years to 2018 is around 27 000 megawatts. These are projects that are under construction,” Beta told Reuters during a mining summit in Zimbabwe’s capital.

Most of the new electricity would come from South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, Beta said, adding that power generation would surpass demand by the end of 2016.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in the region hardest hit by electricity shortages, forcing home owners and industries to endure long hours of power cuts, known locally as load shedding.

Work started last month to expand its Kariba hydro power plant by 300MW, but several other projects which could generate up to 2 000MW in new electricity remain on the back burner due to lack of funds.