Bulawayo power hopes shattered

Bulawayo’s hopes for a development revolution appear dashed as it emerged Friday Botswana has opted out of the $8 million power deal with the struggling Zimbabwe Electricity Power Authority (Zesa) that was meant to finance the generation of 40 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Bulawayo Thermal Station.

NewsDay has it on good authority Botswana has now shifted focus to the construction of the 600MW Morupule B Phase 1 Power in that country, scheduled for commissioning in the third quarter of the year before operations begin in 2012.

Energy minister Elton Mangoma confirmed the power deal was “technically off”.

“Last week I had discussions with Botswana Energy minister (Ponatshego Kedikilwe) on the sidelines of the Sadc Energy ministers’ meeting in Botswana, and he told me that the deal, on their side is off,” said Mangoma without giving details.

Zesa signed the power deal with Botswana last year to revive Bulawayo Thermal Power Station.

Under the deal, state owned Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) would provide funds to the Zimbabwe Power Company to refurbish the Bulawayo plant.

Out of the 90MW that the thermal station is able to generate, Zimbabwe was to export 40MW to Gaborone.
Many thermal power stations in the country were shut down years back due to Zimbabwe’s financial crisis and crumbling infrastructure.

However, Bulawayo Thermal Power Station resumed operations in February, but not at optimal level. Sources say the thermal station only operates as and when coal is available.

Mangoma said the two countries had however agreed to work on other energy co-operations which he was not at liberty to disclose.

Efforts to get comment from BPC and Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira were unsuccessful.

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