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Import your own power: Undenge

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Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge has solutions to the power cuts gripping the economy:Companies should import power or build smaller power stations.

BY TARISAI MANDIZHA

This comes as the State-owned power generation company, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), said it was struggling to raise $6,5 billion to fund power projects.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe Mining and Infrastructure Indaba 2015, Undenge said the current erratic power supply had greatly affected mining operations in the country and the government was doing everything to improve the situation.

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“Similarly, we also urge the private sector, in particular the mining sector, to import power, but should not only import power, I urge you as mining companies to enter into the generation of power itself. If you pool your resources together, I think you can generate up to 600 megawatts (MW),” he said.

“The generation of power is not the responsibility of the ministry or government alone, but our responsibility together. We will allow anyone with the capacity to import power to do so. The importers will pay a wheeling charge to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) for the use of their lines.”

Undenge said the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority had licenced projects with a capacity of more than 4 000MW, but were constrained by funding challenges.

Undenge said the country would import cheap night-time power from the Southern African Power Pool in order to reduce generation at night at Kariba, thereby reserving the water for power generation during the day.

He said discussions were underway for the possible imports from the region to resume in early 2016, but warned that emergency power would come at a cost.

ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro said its projects were stalled by funding constraints.

“Funding these projects has proved challenging when ZPC presents ZETDC as the off-taker. Most financial institutions feel that ZETDC is not a credible off-taker.

“Given the legacy loans on the ZPC balance sheet, most institutions prefer a clean entity, hence the formation of an SPV [special purpose vehicle] for the Kariba project,” Gwariro said.

Among the ZPC power projects are the Batoka Hydro which has the capacity to produce 1200MW, Gairezi Hydro Power with a capacity to produce 30MW and solar projects which can produce 300MW. The power cuts have been a heavy blow to the struggling sectors of the economy forcing companies to invest in alternative sources such as generators thereby pushing up the cost of production.

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