ED turns to Hichilema for power supplies

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

BY PROBLEM MASAU
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to turn to Zambia for assistance to solve the country’s power deficit.

In his weekly column in the Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said he was going to meet Zambian and Mozambican leaders in a bid to find relief from rolling power cuts that threaten to worsen the economic situation.

“This week, I am paying a working visit to the Republic of Mozambique.  In the coming week, I am likely to meet President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema in Livingstone. I will engage my colleagues with the view to ensuring our power imports are secured and uninterrupted,” Mnangagwa said.

The Mnangagwa administration has been at pains to warm up to Hichilema who has publicly shown his support and respect for opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa.

Hichilema had been in opposition politics for more than two decades before winning last year’s election against former Zambian President Edgar Lungu.  He invited Chamisa to his inauguration, to the annoyance of Harare.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba sparked a diplomatic tiff last year with the government of Zambia after calling Hichilema a “sellout” over his association with the opposition.

While Zimbabwe is struggling with daily power cuts, Zambia has achieved an electricity generation surplus of about 1 156 megawatts (MW) following construction of a new power plant in the north, its power utility said on Tuesday.

State-run Zesco Limited said the commissioning of four by 150 megawatt units at the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station has resulted in increased power generation, with total capacity currently standing at 3 456,8MW against a peak national demand of about 2 300MW.

Victor Mapani, the power utility’s managing director, said four out of five units at the power plant had been commissioned and were currently running.

“We expect to commission the last 150MW machine, unit 5, by November this year,” he said during a high-level panel discussion at the ongoing Association of Power Utilities meeting in Dakar, Senegal, according to a release.

He said the country currently had a surplus of 1 156,8MW that was available for trade within the interconnected power network in the southern African region.

Zimbabwe is experiencing prolonged power outages after a surge from South African electricity imports overloaded its network and caused generating plants to fail. Kariba is producing 1 014MW of electricity according to the Zimbabwe Power Company’s website. Zimbabwe has a peak demand of over 2 200MW.

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