The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) says the country’s power crisis could ease from March 20 when Unit 7 at the coal-fired Hwange power station will be added back to the national grid.

ZESA spokesman, George Manyaya, recently said Hwange Unit 7 is set to begin a “synchronization process” on Monday during which it will feed power to the national grid.

He said testing could last up to six weeks.

Unit 8, which is also close to completion and is expected to deliver another 300 MW, is set to come on stream in April. ZimLive cites George Manyaya as saying:

“A lot of technical work has been done to ensure we deliver a robust system. Commissioning is a delicate procedure and has to be done diligently.

“We’re pleased that we have conformed to the standards. We’re also satisfied that based on tests that have been taking place since December 2022, the Hwange 7 and 8 units have been well-designed and built to world standards.

“There have been challenges in the electricity supply owing to technical challenges at our power stations and Zimbabwe’s capacity to pay for imports. The Hwange expansion project will close the demand and supply gap.”

On Friday, 17 March 2023, Zimbabwe was generating 315 MW at Hwange, 241 MW at Kariba and 11 MW at the coal-powered Harare Power Station for a total of 567 MW before imports and power from independent producers.

The new unit of the Hwange power plant will lift Zimbabwe’s installed capacity to 2 400 MW, although the country continues to generate far less.

The government says the country’s peak electricity demand is 1,700 MW.

Zimbabweans are currently contending with power cuts lasting up to 18 hours due to reduced generation at Kariba hydropower station, and regular breakdowns of Hwange’s ageing generators amid ZESA’s inability to pay for electricity imports.