Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda recently issued a ministerial statement on the current electricity crisis.

Below is his full ministerial statement to Parliament:


Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me this opportunity to present a Ministerial Statement on the state of electricity supply that is currently obtaining in the country.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a depressed power supply situation which was exacerbated by the reduced power production from Kariba Power Station.

Besides the usual challenges of aged equipment at the country’s thermal power stations, climate change effects have hit hard on us at the Kariba South Hydro Power Plant where the dam that supports generation of power has received much reduced water inflows due to the poor 2021-2022 rain season.

The water levels at Kariba Dam have gone down such that power generation at the dam had to be curtailed.

You might be aware Mr. Speaker Sir that on Friday, 25th November this year, the Zambezi River Authority notified the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) that the utility had exhausted its water allocation for 2022 and there was need for the power station to be completely shut down.

The shutdown of the power plant would have had the following impacts: about 70% of the country’s power supply would have been lost as a result of shutting down the power station.

The network stabilization would also have been disturbed which ordinarily would be done through Kariba Power Station.

The Ministry engaged its counterparts in Zambia through meetings which were held at board level and also there was a recommendation from the board to allow the two utilities to engage.

It was through those engagements that the Council of Ministers had an Extra Ordinary Meeting to allow ZPC to continue generating from Kariba Power Station but this time at a reduced capacity of between 250 to 300 megawatts.

This effectively resulted in loss of about 300 megawatts capacity on our grid, increasing our power deficit to over 500 megawatts.

The country’s current available internal generation capacity gets to around 800mgw and the power is contributed as follows: from Hwange there is a generation of up to 400mgw which we are currently obtaining.

Kariba is running between 250mgw and 300mgw and then from the small thermals there is a contribution of 30mgw, which we are currently having.

Independent power producers are contributing a total of 56mgw to make up for the 800mgw which we are generating internally.

We are also getting some imports of electricity from Eskom, which is supplying us with 100mgw and another 50mgw from utilities in Mozambique called HCB and EDM also supplying 50mgw.

ZESCO of Zambia has an agreement with ZESA for the supply of 100mgw and in total, we are getting 300mgw as power imports.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, in order to mitigate the current shortfall that was occasioned mainly by the reduced power generation from Kariba Power Station the Ministry together with ZESA have come up with some measures.

The first one is to increase our imports, which I have already indicated that we are currently receiving 300mgw. We intend to increase by an additional 500mgw which we are targeting to get from Mozambique and from the Southern African Power Pool.

Discussions are currently underway for an additional capacity of 150mgw from Mozambique, particularly from EDM power utility.

We will also get another 50mgw from the participation of ZESA at the Southern Africa Power Pool Electricity Market to give us an additional 200mgw over and above the 300mgw which we are currently importing.

Another measure is to ramp up local generation. There is potential to increase generation at Hwange Power Station and I have already indicated that at the moment, we are getting 400mgw and the intention is to have it staying on the grid and sending that 400mgw.

Then from the small thermal power stations, we are intending to increase production and to obtain a contribution of 45mgw. The independent power producers who are currently connected to the grid would be expected to contribute around 75mgw with special focus on ZEE which is to us a low hanging fruit currently sending out 17mgw but their capacity is 40mgw.

They have depressed power generation as a result of incapacitation, which we are currently working on in terms of the coal which they require for power generation.

To that end, a rescue package has been proposed from the Government to cover for additional imports, coal supply and transport costs which have been an inhibiting factor to have adequate coal supplies at the small thermal power stations.

Discussions are currently underway with Treasury for the release of the rescue package. The other measure is to work on the demand side management.

Intensive power users are being engaged to reduce the load and also employ efficiencies in their operations.

Domestic customers are also encouraged to implement energy conservation measures like switching off switches and also to work on the restricted use of electricity geysers and use of efficient gadgets such as efficient lights, fridges and other appliances.

Various platforms are being used like the radio, social media, television and newspapers for members of the public to be aware of the need to conserve the available electricity.

ZESA is expediting the installation of prepaid and smart meters to improve the management of electricity consumption.

The other measure is to get the excess capacity through the net metering facility which allows customers with excess capacity from their generators like solar systems on rooftops to be connected to the grid.

There are some advantages which can be enjoyed by the producers of electricity themselves. You are aware that a normal solar system should be having some storage facilities but through this facility, you only need to have your solar panels and you will use the grid to bank your electricity which you will be withdrawing during times when you are out of production.

Currently, 5 megawatts of capacity have been connected to the grid and we are targeting an additional 7mgw.

ZESA is working flat out to ensure that these customers with excess capacity of 7mgw are immediately connected to the grid.

There shall also be an immediate review of the hydrological situation at Kariba Power Station. The reduction in the power generation capacity has been occasioned by the low water levels in the Kariba Dam.

The minimum operating level of the dam is 475.5mt above sea level. What it means is that any water that is above 475.5mt becomes the live lake storage which will be used for power generation.

For 2022, we had a total allocation of 45 billion cubic meters provided by ZRA, which was shared by our two utilities, ZESA and ZESCO.

ZESA exhausted our 22.5 billion cubic meters but inflows have just started to collect into the dam and there shall be an immediate review in January 2023. We hope that is going to ease the current load curtailment which is obtaining.

In the medium term, there shall be some interventions especially by way of the rehabilitation of the current Hwange station on the existing units 1 to 6.

Already, work is in progress and the detailed project report giving the scope of works to be done at the power station has been finalised and it was accepted by the project owners which are ZESA Holdings and we are seized with ensuring that my Ministry and the Ministry of Finance engages the Indian Exim Bank to also endorse on the detailed project report so that disbursements can immediately commence for the purposes of the rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station.

The intention is to bring that power station, the current Units 1 – 6 to the installed capacity of 920 mw, which if added to the expansion project which we are expecting to produce 600 mw, the total that will be coming from Hwange Power Station will come to 1520 mw.

In the long term, there shall be massive exploitation of hydro-power potential along the Zambezi River and the immediate one is through Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme which has a potential of producing 2 400 mw and as we speak, a feasibility study was concluded and the environmental impact studies have also been endorsed.

Another measure is on Government giving support to the independent power producers. The focus will be on solar PV generation projects. Currently, a total of 100 licenced projects have been licenced by ZERA.

My Ministry is engaging the Ministry of Finance to help de-risk the independent power producer projects through provision of Government implementation agreements for projects which have been awaiting Government guarantee to reach financial closure.

As we speak, three pilot projects have so far received Government implementation agreements and standard power purchase agreement documents. My Ministry is also finalising on the formulation of competitive procurement framework. This is work in progress and we hope by the first quarter of 2023 this will have been finalised.

I now come to the progress on the Hwange Expansion Project through Unit 7 and 8. The project involved the installation of 2 x 300 mw generation units at Hwange Thermal Power Station.

The project has surpassed 97% completion. The completion of Unit 7 is currently under way with the unit expected to be synchronised to the grid before the end of this month and we will be getting around 300 mw once the commission tests reaches commercial operations but as we commence the synchronisation or commercialisation, we will not immediately get to the 300 mw.

There shall be some connections and disconnections and testing of various performances during this process but this synchronisation will be achieved before end of this month.

Commissioning of Unit 8 will follow immediately after Unit 7 has achieved commercial operation and is expected to take not more than two months after reaching commercial operations of Unit 7.

These interventions will ease the current power supply situation and the Government is seized with the implementation of these measures. I submit.