Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mike Kamungeremu said the country needs to quickly focus on its own power generation, as power shortages in South Africa threaten local industry.
Over the past few weeks, South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, reported that several coal-powered generation units had broken down owing to old age and poor maintenance.
There are fears that power blackouts in South Africa will result in:
1). reduced power supply to Zimbabwe. Eskom used to sell up to 400MW of electricity per month to Zimbabwe
2). a delay in delivery of imports from SA by local industry.,
3). a rise in electricity prices in the region as SA will look beyond its borders to secure electricity for its industry.
Kamungeremu told NewsDay Business that Zimbabwe has other options but should now focus on ensuring that its power generators can produce enough power for the whole nation. He said on Eskom’s power blackouts:
It could have some effect since we import power from them but I don’t want to read much into that. We have other options like Mozambique and Zambia but our real focus must actually be on our own power generating infrastructure.
We have been informed that Hwange 7 and 8 are nearing completion and that’s sweet news to our ears. We would rather look forward to the 600 megawatts expected from those plants than worrying about power cuts in South Africa.
Zimbabwe has a power deficit of between 1 000MW and 1 600MW and as a result, has been importing US$17 million worth of power monthly to meet the local electricity generation shortfall.
Shortages of foreign currency limited imports. Last year, ZESA spent US$225 million on power imports.
What’s being done:
The government is upgrading and adding new generation units to the power plants at the Kariba and Hwange power stations.
Kariba’s two generating units that are being constructed have the capacity to generate 300MW of power while Hwange will see two more units being added with a combined capacity of 600MW.