THE Harare Power Station re-powering project is hanging in the balance amid indications that the Indian Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) is reluctant to guarantee the required financial backing.
Two years ago, Jaguar Overseas of India, was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) — a power generation unit owned by ZESA Holdings — to re-power the Harare Power Station by replacing the old plant with a modern one with more capacity and improved efficiency.
It approached Eximbank for US$70 million financial support, but has been struggling to secure that funding for the project.
Impeccable sources at ZPC, told the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M)last week that the Indian bank is continuously asking for more information, a situation that seem to suggest that the institution is not interested in funding the project.
“I would say it’s almost two years (since we submitted our request) but Eximbank of India is continuously asking for more information and we now don’t know when the funds will be availed to enable the commencement of the project,” a source from ZPC told C&M.
Efforts by this newspaper to get a comment from ZPC managing director, Noah Gwariro, were not successful by the time of going to print as he was said to be away on business.
Energy and Power Development Minister, Samuel Undenge and his permanent secretary, Partson Mbiriri, were also not available to comment on the issue.
The re-powering project would see the replacement of the current boiler technology with a circulated fluidised bed, which is more efficient and cost effective.
This will grow the plant’s generation capacity to 120 megawatts (MW) from the current 30MW.
Surprisingly, Jaguar, which is in a quandary over the issue of funding the Harare Power Station project, has also been awarded the tender to re-power Munyati Power Station.
The project at Munyati will see the replacement of 15 existing boilers, overhaul of cooling towers and water treatment plant, refurbishment of two 50MW steam turbines and carrying out civil works.
The outdated power plant it intends to repower is currently generating about 20MW on average, but Munyati Power Station will have its electricity generation capacity restored to 100MW.
Government has also secured US$87 million from the Government of India to re-power Bulawayo Power Station.
The loan will be repaid in 13 years at an interest rate of two percent per annum.
But the refurbishment of the 120MW Bulawayo Power Station, which should have commenced early this year, has been deferred to later this year after parties to the transaction agreed to float a tender for the project in India, instead of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe faces a critical power shortage with generation averaging just below 1000MW and this has been unable to meet the country’s demand of about 1 600MW.
To cover for the shortfall, the power utility, ZESA Holdings, is importing about 300MW of electricity from Eskom of South Africa and 100MW from Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique.
However, government, through ZPC, is working to close the electricity supply gap in the country through expansion projects at Kariba South Hydro Power Station and Hwange Thermal Power Station.
A Chinese contractor, Sino Hydro Corporation, is undertaking expansion work at Kariba Hydro Power Station, which is expected to add 300MW to the country’s existing power generation capacity.
The expansion work at Kariba Hydro Power Station is expected to be complete by 2018 after the government and China Eximbank signed a US$355 million loan agreement for the expansion of the plant.
Expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, the largest coal-fired power station in the country, will also be undertaken by Sino Hydro Corporation.
The expansion will see the thermal power station adding two more units with a combined generation capacity of 600MW.
Zimbabwe is also pursuing other projects to harness power from solar and the US$4,5 billion Batoka Gorge project along the Zambezi River, some 54 kilometres downstream of Victoria Falls.
The multi-billion dollar hydro power project, which is being driven by the Zambezi River Authority, a company owned by the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments, is expected to generate 2 400MW of electricity to be shared equally by the two countries.
HARARE - Although water levels at Lake Kariba are historically at their lowest, it is false and misleading for anyone to suggest that it is drying, Kariba District Administrator Amigo Mhlanga told the Daily News on Sunday this week.
In a wide ranging interview with our Assistant Editor Maxwell Sibanda (MS) carried in Kariba during the launch of the Zimbabwe Red Cross risk reduction scheme, Mhlanga (AM) said it was unfair for people who have never been to Kariba in recent times to make such claims which are not only lies but alarmist. He also refuted claims that the Chinese let out a lot of water during one of their operations at Kariba Dam.
Mhlanga admitted however that the water levels were historically low and that for the first time there was load shedding in Kariba.
Below are extracts from the interview:
MS: Is Lake Kariba drying up?
AM: No, not at all and we who live here and whose life revolve around the Zambezi River are surprised that people can stoop that low and lie that Lake Kariba and the dam are running dry.
MS: So there is no need for Zimbabweans to panic?
AM: People should stop lying; they should stop talking about what they haven’t seen. Yes, the water levels are low but that does not mean people will “die”. This river stretches up to Binga and people downstream have never raised concern that their source is running dry.
MS: What percentages are we talking about?
AM: It has decreased by 12 percent which is quite significant and such a drastic decline last happened in 1992 although off-hand I am not sure about the percentage drop then.
MS: Was there any improvement to the water levels since you conducted traditional rituals as had been called for by local chiefs and elders?
AM: Yes, to our surprise after the rituals we recorded a five percent increase in the water levels. We just did as the elders of this land instructed and this resulted in that increase — there were some significant changes.
As I speak, the fishermen are reporting an increase in their catch — kapenta and bream — because of that slight water rise.
MS: How is the Lake’s low water levels affecting people living in Kariba?
AM: The lake is the source of livelihood for all the people living in Kariba, be it drinking water, leisure boating and electricity for the whole nation. The fishermen have also been affected as they can no longer access other places using their boats. As a result there has been concentration of fishermen at areas with enough water. There is congestion and panic along the river banks as well.
MS: When do you expect the dam to fill up again to normal levels?
AM: The dam usually fills up in May, June up to July as the water comes from Angola.
MS: Will we get to May with the water left in the dam?
AM: I am not an expert, but yes we can go through to May because estimates were actually saying we can even go until October. But we will still have to continue with load shedding. We have to assess the situation and as we reach May, June, July we should be able to have a clearer picture.
MS: There are concerns that too much dam water could have been released and that the Chinese had a hand in all this — how true is this?
AM: We are also hearing from people that the Chinese had a hand but that is not true because no one ever released water from the dam. It wasn’t opened at all — I am an official of the Zambezi River Authority and we are updated on any operations at the dam and no such thing ever happened.
MS: How has been your working relationship with Zambians whom you share the dam with?
AM: Very cordial, we are like brothers because the dam is one source shared by two nations so you cannot afford to be arrogant.
MS: And there has been talk of repairs on the dam wall — have they commenced?
AM: Officially we have not been told of any such work having started. If there is something like that we have not been told yet.
MS: And how is the situation in terms of rains for agriculture?
AM: There has been some improvement for the past two weeks although the situation is not good at all. There isn’t much food in the fields because of the heat wave which hovered at around 40 (Degrees Celsius). Most of the crops wilted at germination stage and are a right-off.
MS: What are some of the challenges that you face as a district?
AM: Hunger is always upon us, the temperatures are too high, hence food supply is a necessity. The government is trying to alleviate the situation as they provide 85 tonnes of food for each ward each month.
MS: Are the roads accessible?
AM: That is our biggest challenge because the roads are very bad that we have resorted to using boats to transport food. Through other stakeholders like Pandenga Holdings —we have managed to ferry food by boats up to Chalala and from there we can easily distribute the food. A boat usually carries between 50 and 60 tonnes of food.