Zimbabwe government will this week dispatch a high-powered team of experts to Mozambique to negotiate for more electricity imports from Hydro Cahora Bassa as authorities continue putting in place measures to improve power supply and avert rolling blackouts.
Zimbabwe is currently receiving 50 megawatts from Mozambique, but authorities want to strike a deal for Zimbabwe to import between 150MW and 400MW.
The country has in the past fortnight been receiving 400MW from Eskom, bringing relief to businesses and consumers that had borne the brunt of severe load shedding.
With water levels at Lake Kariba currently at an unprecedented low, it is envisaged that power imports from Hydro Cahora Bassa will provide cover and forestall a return to severe load shedding that had peaked to as high as 16 hours a day.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi said Zimbabwe had upped its negotiations with Mozambique.
“We are intensifying the scale of our negotiations with Cahora Bassa and we will be posting a team from our Ministry and Zesa for the negotiations.
“They will be going there on Monday or Tuesday (this week).
“At the moment we are not in a position to speak about the quantum of power, but we are hoping that we can start at 150MW and then at a later stage the quantum can be increased to 400MW.”
Minister Chasi said Government is committed to servicing its debt with Cahora Bassa, which currently stands at US$40 million.
“One of the important aspects of the negotiations is obviously the legacy debt that we owe. We have a structure that we are committed to implement to clear the debt,” he said.
“We are fully aware that only after clearing our debts, we will be able to get positive feedback on the amounts that we can import from Mozambique.”
Before Zimbabwe started receiving power supplies from Eskom, President Mnangagwa engaged his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa directly on the matter, culminating in a series of talks that led to the striking of a deal.
Minister Chasi said Zimbabwe will pursue “all means necessary” to strike a positive arrangement with Cahora Bassa, just as it had done with Eskom.
“These are our neighbours and the good thing is that we can interact at all levels. We have nothing to hide from them, so are going to pursue all means necessary to make sure that our negotiations with them achieve positive results.”
He noted that power imports remain a stop-gap measure as Government is implementing several long term measures to guarantee adequate power supplies.
Speaking during a post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday, Minister Chasi told journalists that Government recognised that power imports were expensive, hence the need to move with speed in finding alternative energy sources.
“All imports are very expensive, so we need to move very strategically to disengage ourselves from expensive imports and one key thing of doing this is to make sure that we develop our own capacity for power generation,” he said.
Minister Chasi said Government was expeditiously adopting new policies to guarantee power supplies for the long term, following the adoption of a national bio-fuels policy and other measures to promote renewable energy.
“We are gravitating towards normalcy despite the fact that we have a lot of work to do around generating of electricity,” he said.
“Part of the process that we are engaged with now, which includes approval of the energy policy and the bio-fuels policy, are all meant to empower us to have sufficient power that is adequate even in the absence of (electricity generated at) Kariba.
He added: “The bio-fuels policy document signals Government’s intention to move in a strong way towards bio-fuels. We need to develop a good mix of energies and this policy is an example regarding Government’s attitude towards managing the risk at Kariba, which obviously requires all of us to see and understand the implications.”
Source: The Sunday Mail