Botswana, Namibia to ramp up Zim power generation

5th November 2009 By: Oscar Nkala - Creamer Media Correspondent

Zimbabwe says that it will ramp up power production at the Hwange thermal power station from the current 450 MW to at least 750 MW and restart another idle thermal station by June 2010 with help from neighbours Namibia and Botswana respectively.

Zimbabwe Energy and Power Development Minister Elias Mudzuri tells Engineering News that Namibia's NamPower will continue to assist in reviving the Hwange power station to optimum production levels, which he said should soon peak at 750 MW with the addition of two more generation units later this year.

NamPower invested $45-million in the Zimbabwe power project.

The station is already using four units, all revived with the help of NamPower in return for the exportation of an unspecified percentage of the power produced to Namibia. Botswana Power Corporation will help Zimbabwe revive the Bulawayo thermal power station, one of the four which the State power utility tried to revive last year but abandoned due to crippling coal shortages.

"Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is investing $8-million in the revival of the Bulawayo station. It has a capacity of 90 MW, but that can be boosted up to 120 MW. We expect to have a 50:50 share with BPC, so both countries will get substantial benefits out of this deal," Mudzuri says.

Mudzuri says that the country's hydroelectric potential remains underutilised, as it has many projects, which have been on the cards for years.

"We have a lot of power generation infrastructure rotting at Harare, Manyame and [the] Kariba thermal power station. We have undeveloped projects like the Gokwe north power station, which has the capacity to produce 1 400 MW, the Lupane methane gas project which has a potential for 300 MW and the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project, which can give us up to 1 600 MW. All these are stalled because we have no investors willing to take them up."

Zimbabwe, which has a peak demand of 2 000 MW, produces only 1 100 MW and imports up to 500 MW from neighbours Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also has a stand-by agreement for emergency power supplies with South Africa.

Massive power shortages are forecast between now and the end of 2010 in the country.