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Zimbabwe to Namibia power export deal may extend beyond 2014

5 June 2012 – Newsday reports that Zimbabwe will continue supplying Namibia with electricity from the Hwange thermal power station. This will continue even after the expiry of a US$40 million deal signed between the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and Namibia’s NamPower in 2009, as Zimbabwe is lagging behind in fulfilling the contract.

According to the deal’s power purchase agreement (PPA), Zesa was supposed to deliver 150 megawatts (MW) of power daily to NamPower for five years. The contract expires in May 2014. Hwange has a capacity to generate 900 MW of electricity, but this has been reduced by lack of maintenance over the years.

Zimbabwe’s energy and power development minister Elton Mangoma says Zimbabwe, which is battling a serious power deficit, will continue to export electricity to Namibia. “According to the principal agreement, Zimbabwe would supply power until 2014. However, there is a clause which indicates that if the power that we would have provided by the end of the contract does not tally with the agreement, we would go beyond the expiry date in supplying power.”

Namibia’s Electricity Control Board chief executive officer Siseho Simasiku recently expressed concern that the expiry of the contract would leave his country with a capacity shortage of 150 MW and said an alternative supplier needed to be found to close the gap. “If no alternative supplier can be found in the short term, Namibia will have to buy this energy on the emergency market from the region at emergency tariffs, which is very expensive,” he says.

Namibia is importing between 50% and 70% of its energy requirements from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zesa recently announced a punishing load-shedding schedule that has seen households going for more than nine hours without electricity every day. Zimbabwe imports 35% of its power requirements from Mozambique and other regional suppliers.

Zesa says it would soon embark on a programme to add 600 MW and 300 MW in new generation capacity at its Hwange and Kariba power stations respectively to meet rising demand.