Harare (New Ziana) – Implementation of regional co-operation agreements to secure more energy supplies will be fast-tracked to offset current electricity challenges in the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Tuesday.
Addressing the first Cabinet meeting of the year, President Mnangagwa said unnecessary bureaucracy had stalled the implementation of existing agreements.
“Regional co-operation agreements on energy and power supply and management require urgent operationalisation,” he said.
“There has been too much red- tape on this matter and relevant line Ministries are urged to approach such agreements with the seriousness it deserves. Ministers and officials must always be guided by national interest.”
Power cuts have worsened in recent months because of the low generation capacity at Kariba and Hwange power stations for various reasons, threatening the country’s economic performance.
The country requires over 2000 megawatts per day and regional imports are required to offset the deficit.
But, these have not been consistent chiefly because of difficulties in making regular payments to regional power utilities.
Last month, Zesa Holdings said it required US$17 million per month to import enough power and was engaged in negotiations with neighbouring power utilities over settling outstanding debts and securing new supplies.
As part of long-term solutions to the electricity challenges, President Mnangagwa said the government would licence more Independent Power Producers.
He said it was imperative to put in place measures to guarantee adequate electricity supplies in the country to ensure sustained economic growth.
“In this regard, internal efforts to increase power generation should be strengthened, including through the issuance of licences to more Independent Power Producers,” he said.
According to generation statistics from the Zimbabwe Power Company on Tuesday, the country was producing only 1175 megawatts of electricity from Hwange Thermal and Kariba hydro power stations while the three smaller coal-fired stations (Harare, Bulawayo, and Munyati) were off-grid.
Several power projects are at various stages of implementation as part of efforts to improve power supplies in the country.
For example, the expansion of the Hwange power plant through an addition of two generating units is on course, with the first unit expected to come online by mid-year.
The two units at Hwange will add another 600 megawatts to the national grid.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are also jointly working on the planned 2 400 Megawatt Batoka Gorge hydro-electric power plant to ensure energy self-sufficiency.