Power decentralization is a major approach that the Zimbabwean government should consider so as to desist from heavily depending on SAPP for power imports whilst it has the capability of generating surplus power, rather expenditures must be focused on importing and servicing machinery.
By Charmaine Kamambale/ Rudairo Mapuranga / Mirirai Ngoya
Corruption is the key factor contributing to Zimbabwe’s failure to fully invest in stable electricity supply and localize the generation of sufficient power for the whole nation .Notably, during the winter season, electricity supply from hydropower station is not enough to supply the whole nation. Too much fulfillment of personal interests amongst the top officials is leading to power black outs in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) should take arms and come up with an initiative to localize power supply in Zimbabwe, there is a need to increase penetration of renewable energy technologies for the benefit of the future . As such, using water shortages as an excuse for the failure of hydropower supply is not significant at this point in time .
Mr. Farai Maguwu highlighted as thus “the government must open up the power generation sector to Independent Power Producers who can use their resources.”
This has been further consolidated by the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) that Independent Power Producers are going to play a critical role by supplying 22% of the new generation capacity in the same period whilst Coal, 10896, 36%Hydro, 7863,26%Gas, 5644,19%Solar, 2265,7%Wind, 3033,10%Diesel, 216,1%Biomass, 284,1%New Generation Capacity
Zimbabwe shouldn’t entirely depend on ZESA alone for its power supply, instead the country should utilize the opportunity of generating more power locally hence reducing import burdens. Looking back in the history of Zimbabwe it can be traced that the government of Zimbabwe has not fully invested in power supply generation for the country from 1980.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe Farai Maguwu said that that the prevailailing situation in the country is due to the fact that the government never invested in electricity generation.
“Government has not invested significantly in electricity generation since independence in 1980, mainly due to corruption and lack of vision there are three possible solutions that the government must consider for the benefit of every individual” he said.
1. There is a need for the government of Zimbabwe to take away the monopoly of ZESA and allow completion of power generation and supply within the country, in that way providers of solar power must wake up and grasp such an opportunity to generate income and play a pivotal role in dismissing the load shedding theme which Zimbabweans are reciting as a national anthem.
2 Investment which is less costly must be put on the table by the government so that they generate sufficient power for the nation rather than depending on electricity imports where they are buying inadequate power for the nation worsening the situation, hence leading to the deterioration of many businesses in different sectors of the country.
Maguwu said that, the government must encourage clean energy technology which doesn’t require expensive infrastructure like that which is used in hydropower.
3. Since independence the load shedding theme runs in the streets of Zimbabwe and whilst top officials are barely affected by this situation ,the citizens of Zimbabwe are suffering beyond doubt. It is time for the government to open its eyes and decentralize power generation.
“There is a need to decentralize power transmission. Provinces must be encouraged to generate electricity for local consumption first and sell the surplus to the national grid” supported Maguwu.
Zimbabwe needs to take up strides in the utilization of clean energy as its source of power . Due to climate changes , depending on hydroelectricity seems unwise hence there is no need for the government to continuously rely on ZESA or hydropower supply only , rather it must license private players who can invest in alternative power supply.
Acting ZESA Chief Executive Patrick Chivaura reportedly said that Zimbabwe requires US 14million for monthly electricity imports in order to meet electricity demands and currently the load shedding schedule has stirred from heavy to severe. Thus indicating that Zimbabwe should implement measures that are going to ease the situation by investing in its own sustainable national power supply.
It is actually speculated that Zimbabwe relies mostly on hydropower but the truth of the matter is that Zimbabwe is capable of producing the required amount of coal to help in providing power for the whole nation.
It is disappointing that we could not manage to receive comments from ZESA and Rugare Dhobie from Hwange colliery concerning why Zimbabwe is failing to generate much power from coal reserves to cover up the gap left by hydropower generation.
“Coal must be used as a transitional energy resource the greater p part of the world is transitioning from coal-powered electricity to renewable energy due to climate change which is also contributing to food insecurity in Zimbabwe. Thus Zimbabwe can easily generate enormously solar and wind energy if the government makes clean energy a priority. But as the Gwanda solar project and now the awarding of yet another solar tender to the graft-accused former Eskom CEO Koko, our government’s affinity to corruption is the main stumbling block to our dream of energy self-sufficiency” said Farai Maguwu.
Zimbabwe has a capacious coal mining industry yet the nation is experiencing serious power deficits .It is actually surprising that Zimbabwe relies mostly on importing energy from its neighboring countries yet our four coal mining firms are capable of producing 500 000 tones of coal at minimum per month and ZPC requires about 250 000 tones of coal per month to satisfy all the 4 thermal power stations in Zimbabwe.
However, obsolete equipment pulls down productivity in the mining industry , as such the government’s vision of producing 20 million tones of coal per year seems surrealistic .
Zimbabwe needs to invest in importing machinery that will help boost the coal mining sector in order to rescue the nation from long frequent and long lasting blackouts .
Research has it that numerous projects that will counteract the debilitating power shortages are underway and these include the Sengwa project which is based on a coal resource of 1.3 bn tones reportedly capable of generating up to 2000MWof power , Batoka project which is a prospective hydroelectric power station planned to be on the Zambezi river , Harava solar project which targets to construct an initial 20 MW solar array.
Nevertheless , with the rate of corruption being at peak in Zimbabwe these projects only offer hope to the public but the funds invested in these projects attract greedy individuals . Consequentially these projects will take much time to be accomplished than the initial expected period .
Strive Masiyiwa the renowned owner of diversified international telecommunications(Econet) reportedly affirmed that he could have proffered a solution to curb Zimbabwe’s energy distress years ago but the devastating corruption rate in Zimbabwe pushed him away .
Zimbabwe should cut power imports, rather the nation strive to work towards importing machinery that will effectively assist in boosting our coal mines subsequently ensuring stable and sustainable power supply . Electricity imports are crippling our treasury.
Although Zimbabwe might receive power from South Africa of up to 400MW, the South Africa power utility Eskom has set tough conditions for the country which means that, Zimbabwe must lay its brains and effort in investing in its own power.
According to Eskom, Zimbabwe will be guaranteed 50MW due to the fact that Eskom is encountering some challenges and a resounding 350 MW contract is anticipated only if there is no load shedding in South Africa.
ZESA should therefore be resolute in seeking both local and foreign genuine investment to improve Zimbabwe’s power grid, Zimbabwe through its know power stations has the capacity to produce enough electricity for the country.
The country which with a total of total of five power stations which have the capacity of producing more than 3000MW is current producing only 813MW, with Munyati power station producing only 16MW from a supposed 120MW ,Bulawayo14MW from a supposed 120MW ,Harare 16MW from a supposed 156MW, Kariba 359MW from a supposed 1050MW and Hwange producing only 408MW from a supposed 920MW which will be increased to 1520MW due to the fact that, a third stage being added to the station with 2 x 300MW units being constructed.
The solution to Zimbabwe’s grueling power cuts lays in Zimbabwe investing in generating its own electricity, if all of Zimbabwe’s power station being to work at full throttle it means Zimbabwe will have more electricity to export than to consume, a tip of an iceberg.
This article first appeared in the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine August 2019 issue