20 January 2010 – According to Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister, power exports to Namibia won’t stop and Zimbabwe will uphold a 2007 deal signed by the two countries despite struggling to meet its own domestic demand.
Namibia’s NamPower entered a $40-million agreement to refurbish ZESA’s 400 MW Hwange Power Station, in return for 150 MW of power over five years.
But the plant was operating below capacity due to coal shortages, forcing ZESA to import power for export to Namibia in order to fulfil its supply quota under the deal.
State media last week quoted Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister Elias Mudzuri calling for the suspension of exports until the Hwange plant was operating at full capacity.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mudzuri denied Zimbabwe would halt power supplies.
"The Government of Zimbabwe and ZESA remain committed to the terms of both the loan agreement and the power purchase agreement as well as the Southern Africa Power Pool trading protocols," Mudzuri said.
"Any changes and improvement to the agreement are to be done within the context of the agreement itself."
Zimbabwe currently generates about 1 100 MW, about half of its peak electricity demand of 2 000 MW, due to obsolete equipment and coal shortages. The country imports about 35% of its power requirements from regional suppliers.
Analysts say frequent power outages would hamper Zimbabwe’s efforts to fix its economy, which declined by as much as 50% between 2000 and 2008.
The country’s key manufacturing and mining sectors have been hit hard by chronic power shortages, which have also seen households going for as long as 12 hours without electricity.