Harare, Zimbabwe — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 14 October 2011 – The government of Zimbabwe urgently requires about US$80 million for the rehabilitation of its power plants that are operating at sub-optimal levels and failing to meet the country’s power demands.
The proposed rehabilitation programme will see average output from available plants increasing from the current level of 1,200MW to a target of between 1,600MW and 1,900MW for 2011 and 2012. Installed capacity presently stands at 1 920MW against a demand of 2,200MW.
Finance minister Tendai Biti recently noted in his budget strategy for 2012 that the rehabilitation exercise would be funded through the 2012 National Budget and the Zimbabwe Power Company’s own contributions.
The project also includes the rehabilitation of all small thermal power stations. “In order to achieve these targets an amount of US$80 million is required for the rehabilitation of power plants, including small thermal power stations,” the minister said.
The country is faced with serious power outages, which have adversely affected production levels across all sectors of the economy, mainly mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Crippling power shortages have seen the government going all out to lure investors into the power sector, and so far US$10 billion worth of power projects have been approved and await implementation.
Power utility Zesa is unable to maintain equipment due to cash constraints, and failure by consumers to pay for power made it worse. Zesa is owed more than US$470 million by customers.
Erratic power supplies have resulted in mostly mining companies directly importing power from neighbouring Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Zimbabwe has also been importing power from South Africa, which is facing its own serious power demands due to so far expanding industry.
About 13 independent power producers have been granted operating licences, but nothing has materialised so far. The International Monetary Fund recently said Zimbabwe requires US$13 billion to stabilise the energy sector and speed up rural electrification.
Zimbabwe’s transmission and distribution infrastructure requires rehabilitation and upgrading, following years of inadequate maintenance and vandalism, while new settlements and rural areas require connection to the national grid.
Going forward, the government is planning to increase power generation capacity from 1,960MW to 2,800MW by 2015 as part of its infrastructure development programme.
Development of reliable power infrastructure has been cited in the new economic policy as “critical for sustainable economic recovery, growth and development.”