Hwange Thermal Power Station is one of Zimbabwe’s power sources.

By DAKARAI MASHAVA in Victoria Falls

ZESA is exploring the possibility of setting up power stations in Mozambique as part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to meet a spike in local electricity demand.

This was revealed at the CEO Africa Roundtable conference in Victoria Falls yesterday by the acting managing director of Zesa subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), Howard Choga.

Choga said Mozambique had the ideal conditions for all-year hydro power generation.

This came as the country has been experiencing relentless power cuts largely due to a combination of dilapidated plants and other support infrastructure, as well as reduced electricity imports.

“We are submitting bids to be able to develop power stations in Mozambique.

“While we also have the Batoka here in Zimbabwe, it is way up on the basin … If you go down the basin (in Mozambique) you will go into a zone where the dams will be spilling throughout the year unlike the Kariba,” Choga said.

He added that ZETDC was also keen to take advantage of other gorges on the Zambezi basin, to build hydro-power plants.

“We are already in touch with Mozambique and Zambia on that front,” Choga said.

He also said increasing local electricity demand was pushing the power utility to come up with various key interventions.

“The demand for electricity in our economy is unprecedented. The current customer base is 830 000, while applications for connections are mounting.

“When 40 percent of the prospective client base is not connected that is a giant leap forward in terms of electricity demand.

“Current maximum power demand is 1 850 megawatts per day. Last year it was 1 800 and the previous year it was 1 720.

“Of that demand, I would say we can only supply up to 1 400 megawatts and the difference is managed through load shedding,” Choga added.

All this also comes as reeling businesses are pushing for an urgent all-stakeholders’ meeting, in a desperate bid to find lasting solutions to the country’s worsening power crisis that is badly affecting industry, commerce and ordinary consumers alike.

It also comes as authorities have promised long-suffering Zimbabweans that they would likely experience no power cuts at all as from April next year.

The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Kurai Matsheza, was among the concerned business leaders who told the Daily News recently that an all-stakeholders’ indaba could help to find lasting solutions to the current brutal blackouts.

“Load-shedding has been disastrous for the manufacturing sector. When you do not have power, you cannot produce much, and productivity is very often halted.

“Sometimes the power cuts are unannounced and they cause damage to machinery. The losses that arise are very big and this is taking us backwards.

“Looking at the last quarter projections it will not be as good as we expected because there has been little productivity,” Matsheza said.

“The problem of load-shedding has been there for a long time and it seems it will not be resolved overnight. There is a need, therefore, for engagement with the authorities and to have a series of meetings to find a lasting solution to these power cuts.

“I know we are not there yet, but engagement would be able to help bring something meaningful to the table. So, we look forward to consultative meetings with the government,” he added.

On his part, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR), Denford Mutashu, also said they were keen to meet authorities over the deepening power crisis.

“Electricity is mainly used for lighting, air conditioning, and food refrigeration and network infrastructure, as well as for ventilation systems.

“We are, therefore, concerned over the increased load-shedding experience which is also adding to high overhead costs.

“In this regard, we are calling for an all-stakeholders meeting with the government to address this situation,” he said, adding that power tariff hikes had also impacted negatively on industrial production.

Meanwhile, authorities have promised both business and consumers that they will likely experience no power cuts at all as from April next year.

Speaking to the Daily News in September, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Energy and Power Development, Gloria Magombo, said Zesa was scheduled to complete the first of its two new 300 megawatt plants in Hwange by the end of this month, which she said would help to ease the current heavy load-shedding in the country.

The other new 300 megawatt power plant at Hwange was expected to come on stream at the end of April next year — at which point it was projected that the menace of electricity blackouts would end altogether.