- The government of Zimbabwe on Tuesday entered into agreement with an undisclosed Russian company to address frequuent power shortages by developing small hydro plants in the southern African country.
"These [hydro power plants] will be located mainly in remote areas not covered by the grid. They are expected to bring life to these areas by way of poverty alleviation,” Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) confirmed.
"Where the power plants are located in areas covered by the grid, transmission loses will be reduced drastically. The construction of a 5MW plant on Mutirikwi Dam to supply Masvingo town will cause a gain of 7MW on the system."
ZESA officials said the move is necessitated by dwindling power output of the country's main generator - Hwange Power Station.
Though Hwange station has a capacity of 920 MW, it however generates only 320MW on a daily basis. This is mainly due to the destruction of engines at the station.
The state-owned utility company officials would not disclose where they secure funding for the project. All that Zimbabweans were informed was that an unnamed regional power company has agreed to bankroll the project.
In recent years, most Zimbabweans have been coping to live with frequent outages caused by shortages of foreign currency. Because of its tattered human rights credentials, Zimbabwe government has been battling to secure foreign currency to import spare parts to repair the engines of Hwange Thermal Power Station.
In January, ZESA said it was suffering with sweeping and extended power cuts. With unsustainable debts, ZESA was forced to lay off much of its staff immediately.
The utility company’s board Chairman, Professor Christopher Chetsanga, earlier on said ZESA was in debt to the tune of over US $420 million, which was why it would immediately lay off 600 of its staff.
Zimbabwe’s inability to produce sufficient energy supply has forced the country to import 35 percent of the national requirement, or 650MW, from neighbouring South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.
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