Zimbabwe energy minister lauds China for funding power plant expansion

China plans to provide funding to expand Kariba South hydro power station’s electricity producing capacity by 300 megawatts.

Kariba Dam

Speaking to Xinhua in Kariba ahead of the commissioning of the expansion project by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday, Zimbabwean energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo on said the additional power will help reduce the country’s power import bill.

“We are very excited by the work which has been done by our colleagues, Sinohyro and their counterparts here. We are really thrilled in the sense that as you know we still import power from Eskom of South Africa and Hydro Cabbora Basa from Mozambique and when we see such development it gives us strength and makes us certain that our import bill is going to be reduced tremendously,” the minister said.

China’s hydro power engineering and construction firm, Sinohydro carried out the expansion of the Kariba power plant by adding two 150 megawatt units from 2014 at a cost of 535 million U.S. dollars.

The first unit was completed and started feeding into the national grid in December 2017 while the test run for the second unit was completed two weeks ago.

The expansion project has lifted installed capacity for the plant from 750 megawatts to 1,050 megawatts, making it the largest power plant in Zimbabwe.

An official of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authourity (ZESA) inspects water levels on the Kariba dam in Kariba, Zimbabwe, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe requires 1,400 megawatts but has been producing about 900 megawatts, covering the shortfall through imports.

It imports 300 megawatts from Eskom and 50 megawatts from Mozambique.

Minister Moyo said Zimbabwe wants China to continue assisting it in developing its power generation capacity to meet anticipated increased demand as more investors flock to the country after the coming in of a new government led by Mr. Mnangagwa.

“We have other projects naturally across the country which we think should be sped up. Because of the new dispensation we know that a number of investors are coming into the country, some of them are coming to re-open closed businesses and industries are going to be re-opening and we are quite confident that with more power available, there will be huge economic development.

“We are therefore encouraging our colleagues from China to continue with this good spirit they have demonstrated to us. We want to see this friendship solidified,” the minister said.

He said the country was proud to be commissioning the power development project which has far reaching implications for the lives of Zimbabweans.