President Mnangagwa is on Wednesday expected to preside over the ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, which is estimated to cost $1,5 billion. The expansion project will see two more generating units, 7 and 8, being constructed with each generating 300MW of electricity on completion.
Chinese firm Sino Hydro, is undertaking the expansion project, which is expected to be completed in 42 months.
Zesa Holdings spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, told The Herald Business last week that about 2 500 jobs would be created at the peak of the project.
“Projections at project peak for Hwange: plant 2 200 (employees while) transmission and distribution (would have) 300,” said Mr Gwasira.
Job creation dovetails with President Mnangagwa’s aspirations, as he battles to improve the living standards of citizens, most of whom are still reeling from over a decade of economic recession under former President Robert Mugabe.
During the Kariba South expansion project, which has added a further 300MW into the grid, 1 500 people got jobs.
Apart from job creation, the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project is significant as it comes at a time when Government is luring both local and foreign investors to set up businesses, employ citizens and develop infrastructure and new business requires more power.
Since December last year, firm investment commitments worth over $20 billion have been received.
Foreign investors’ appetite for Zimbabwe’s investment opportunities is sky-high after the new administration tweaked the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which was seen as draconian.
Government has since amended the Act to allow foreign investors to own their projects 100 percent in all sectors apart from diamonds and platinum where the 51 /49 shareholding structure still applies.
Given the huge response by investors, it is envisaged that when the bulk of the $20 billion worth of investment commitments eventually take off, more electricity would be required so that they operate optimally, without being affected by power challenges.
Before the expansion exercise at Kariba South, which cost $533 million, installed capacity was 750MW.
Total capacity at Kariba South has now increased to 1 050MW but that helps peak power demand without adding to the total energy generated since there is no extra Zambezi water. Hence Hwange extension was planned at the same time to provide the extra base load with Kariba taking over the traditional hydro station role of providing the peak deamnd.
Hwange, which has an installed capacity of 920MW, was subdued last week , generating 310MW last Friday. That station cannot operate flat out at present because of cooling design problems, to be fixed with the extension, and because older boiler-generator units need maintenance.