Energy and Power
Development Minister
Elton Mangoma
 
30 July 2012 – The Zimdiaspora reports that Zimbabwe’s government will soon disband Zesa Holdings into the National Grid Service Company (NGSC) as part of a restructuring exercise to make it efficient. This will level the playing field ahead of entrance of independent power producers.
 
Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma says, “Zesa Holdings was supposed to be only an instrument of holding shares in the successor companies. Instead it morphed into a huge bureaucracy negating the very point of establishing successor companies.” He says the NGSC would inherit all Zesa legacy debts and be 100% government owned. “NGSC will be responsible for transmission, market and systems operation. It will have reserve supply responsibility.”
 
The current Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company will become the Zimbabwe Distribution Company and be responsible for electricity distribution. The other companies will be Zimbabwe Power Company, Zesa Enterprises and Powertel and will have separate boards reporting to government.
 
Mangoma says the country’s government has adopted a number of short-term measures to alleviate the plight of consumers that have had to endure long periods of power outages. Among some of the strategies was optimisation of Hwange power station to improve its generation capacity from between 300 MW and 500 MW to its installed capacity of 900 MW.
 
“Funding for the project had been secured locally and rehabilitation of the plant would start soon.” Mangoma also says government is looking at reviving small thermal power stations that include Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati. “Essar Holdings has agreed to lease Munyati power station and produce 140 MW while funding for the other two is being sought.”
 
He also says that US$6 million has been secured for Hwange Colliery to improve its operations and provide a constant supply of coal to the power stations.
 
Other projects include the Gairezi hydropower station in Manicaland, with a generation capacity of 30 MW, whose construction will commence in September at a cost of US$90 million.
 
Mangoma says there are ongoing discussions to tap into solar power. “Solar plants can be put up very quickly. Current discussions are centering on whether there should be one plant or a number of them and signing of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to buy all the power produced for a fixed period (between 5-10 years).”
 
Mangoma says another pilot project is under way with a housing co-operative in Mutare to install solar panels on the roofs of their homes. “The electricity so generated will be used within their homes and the surplus fed into the grid. At night the homes will be supplied by Zesa. At the end of the month, the account will be settled depending on the power produced and consumed. The flow of the electricity will be measured using a reverse meter. The policy can be extended to anyone although it may be more applicable to new housing complexes as the panels will be part of the cost of the roof with no extra investment required.”
 
 He also says the government is looking at doing a field map of the amount of coal bed methane gas reserves in Lupane before the construction of gas fired power plant. “As soon as the drilling to the exploration starts, temporary generators will be installed to produce up to 510 MW.”
 
Mangoma says that in the longer term the Zimbabwean government is looking at the Batoka hydroelectric project that will be constructed in conjunction with Zambia. He says the initial obstacles to the project have been resolved with Zimbabwe agreeing to pay the US$70 million it owed its neighbour with US$10 million having already been paid.
 
 He says there is also a need for Zimbabwe to be involved in the Great Inga dam project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that has a capacity of 40,000 MW as part of regional efforts to achieve reliable power supply. He says Zimbabwe has reduced its arrears to power suppliers in the region from over US$100 million to just under US$20 million and was negotiating for an increase in supply that is presently at 25 MW.
 
Zimbabwe requires at least 2,000 MW but is producing around 1,100 MW resulting in load-shedding.