Zimbabwe faces worsening power cuts as water levels decrease at Kariba


HARARE – Zimbabweans should brace themselves for an escalation in power cuts due to dwindling water levels at the Kariba Hydro Power Station, according to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). Despite recent electricity tariff hikes, the country lacks the funds to import additional power, exacerbating the crisis.

Zimbabwe electricity and power crisis
Image: CITE

Confirming the dire situation, David Mandikadza, chairperson of the ZERA Board, explained that the low water levels at Kariba Hydro Power Station have severely impacted power generation.

“Generation at Kariba is very much depleted largely because of [low] water inflows. Secondly, we have not been able to import as much as we should be,” Mandikadza stated. He added that if imports were possible, they would help fill the power gap.

Furthermore, the shutdown of the aging thermal power stations in Harare, Bulawayo, and Munyati has aggravated the problem. 

“The other reason is that the old thermal power stations which are stationed for instance at Harare, Bulawayo, and Munyati, are currently not running. I think we are currently at a stage where we are shutting them down.

“The other problem has to do with the fact that Unit 7 [at Hwange] is currently out so for those reasons we have got shortages of power.”

In an attempt to alleviate the crisis, Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo announced that an additional 120MW would be added to the grid in the coming week. 

However, as of November 24, 2023, Zimbabwe's power production stood at 1285MW, falling short of the peak demand of 1700MW. Hwange generated 674MW, Kariba produced 570MW, and independent power producers (IPPs) contributed a meager 41MW.

While Unit 7 at Hwange is temporarily offline for maintenance and will be restored in a few weeks, Unit 8 is also scheduled for maintenance. 

The power crisis in Zimbabwe has intensified, with only certain areas, including VIP residences, major hospitals, and broadcasters, enjoying uninterrupted electricity supply.

To cope with the situation, more privileged individuals and institutions are investing in solar power and backup generators that run on petrol and diesel.

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