Zimbabwe to Build Mini-Hydro Power Stations

Zimbabwe's Tokwe-Mukosi Dam Spilling (Chronicle)

Zimbabwe – The government of Zimbabwe is planning to set up 17 mini-hydro power stations on various dams across the country.

This was revealed by President Robert Mugabe during a commissioning ceremony of the newly constructed Tokwe-Mukosi Dam located in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. The dam is Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body with a capacity of 1,8 million cubic metres.

Mugabe further revealed that his government will be setting up a 15 megawatt mini-hydro power station at the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and that the Italian contractor, Salini Impregilo, who built the dam was already building a power house for the power station.

With an estimated cost of US$20 million, the Tokwe-Mukosi dam mini-hydro power station is expected to generate enough electricity to power the whole of Masvingo province.

The Zimbabwe President was quoted by the state run Herald newspaper saying his government was engaged with identifying potential investors to install the planned mini-hydro power stations countrywide.

“Tokwe-Mukosi Dam will have a hydro-electricity plant capable of producing 15 megawatts of power. The inclusion of the plant follows deliberate policy framework by government for every new dam to have a provision for the generation of hydro-electricity as we seek to address the country’s power deficit and an over-reliance on power imports,” the Herald further quoted Mugabe.

According to the state run daily, Mugabe also said, “The responsible ministry (Environment, Water and Climate) through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has already commenced the process of identifying potential investors for the mini-hydroelectric plant here and on 17 other dams across the country.”

Zimbabwe is currently facing an almost two decades’ long electricity challenge which has seen lengthy power outages becoming a regular occurrence in the southern African country.

While demand for electricity has been on the rise in Zimbabwe generation capacity has been declining due to aging equipment and breakdowns at the Hwange Thermal Power station and at the Kariba Dam hydro-power plant.

For many years Zimbabwe has resorted to importing power from other regional countries like South Africa and Mozambique to meet its electricity deficit.

But the on-going economic crunch in Zimbabwe has seen the country defaulting on paying for the imported electricity. This has led to South Africa’s power utility Eskom recently threatening to cut off Zimbabwe if they don’t settle their debt.

Eskom supplies Zimbabwe with 300MW of electricity while Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique supplies 50MW. Zimbabwe owes the two utilities a combined amount of over US$100 million.

Should Eskom carry on with its threat this will see Zimbabwe which requires 1 400MW of electricity per day but generates only 980MW going into a period of load-shedding. This will drastically affect the skeleton production sector of the Zimbabwean economy which includes a few manufacturers, mining companies and farmers, particularly winter wheat farmers.