Power Cuts To Worsen In Zimbabwe, ZESA Equipment In Need of Massive Service

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ZIMBABWE’ two biggest electricity generation plants will start annual routine maintenance on Tuesday, leading to even deeper power cuts throughout the country, the state-owned utility said.

At best, Zimbabwe produces 1,345 megawatts (MW), half its peak demand, forcing local industries to use costly diesel generators to keep operations running.

Electricity shortages have been blamed for keeping away potential investors.

The two power stations set for maintenance are Hwange, a coal-fired station in the west and Kariba hydro plant in the north, which jointly produce 90 percent of the country’s power.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) said Hwange would undergo maintenance until Oct. 7, while Kariba, which has cut back on generation due to low water levels, would see its maintenance stretch to Jan. 28.

“Consumers will experience suppressed power supplies until generation is brought back to normal levels,” ZESA said in a statement.

Hwange has a capacity of 920 megawatts but ageing and frequent breakdown of equipment has kept its production around 496 MW.

Zimbabwe Power Company, ZESA’s subsidiary, last week said it would cut electricity generation by a third to 475 megawatts (MW) at Kariba due to low dam water levels.

ZESA said it would import electricity from neighbouring countries if it is available. However most of them, including South Africa and Zambia, are also grappling with power supply shortages of their own.

On Monday, Africa’s richest man, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, said he plans to open a $400 million cement plant in Zimbabwe and would also look at investing in coal and power generation.

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