Livingstone Marufu Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) yesterday started drawing down on the $1 billion facility extended by the Chinese Government through China Export Import Bank meant to finance the Hwange Power Station 7 and 8 expansion to increase electricity generation capacity of the thermal power station.
President Mnangagwa revealed this during the Zanu PF Youth League Convention in Gweru yesterday. The development is expected to add 600 megawatts (MW) to the power station’s total electricity generation capacity that stands at 920MW, thereby pushing its installed capacity to 1 520MW.
President Mnangagwa told hundreds of thousands in the crowd gathered for the convention in Mkoba that the Hwange Power Station project will push the country towards electricity self-sufficiency and create more jobs.
“We need electricity across the country, about two or three months ago we commissioned the Kariba South Extension’s 300 megawatts.
“When we went to China, we were given a loan facility of around $1 billion for Hwange 7 and Hwange 8 whose draw-down will begin this week (to kick start construction works for the capacity expansion). In the process we have created jobs for over 1 000 people,” said President Mnangagwa.
The China Export-Import Bank facility was signed in 2015 and work is expected to start in the coming weeks.
The contractors, Sino Hydro, are the ones who were also contracted for Kariba South extension, and are already on the ground.
Hwange Power Station expansion will go a long way in ensuring power security. Hwange’s units 7 and 8 are expected to strengthen the country’s electricity base load and this will push the country towards self-sufficiency. Zimbabwe consumes an average of 1 400MW daily in summer and 1 600MW in winter.
The Hwange Power Station expansion programme follows the commissioning of two units at Kariba Power Station early this year as Government strives to narrow the power deficit. Kariba South extension plant units are contributing 300MW to the national grid.
The country still imports power from Eskom of South Africa and Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric (HCB). Daily, Zimbabwe produces an average of 1 200MW, pushing the country to import 350MW.
The President said electricity shortages will be a thing of the past as more investors scramble to invest in the energy sector.
Meanwhile, the President said a lot of projects were going on smoothly, including the $4,2 billion Karo Resources project and machinery was already being procured. He said the country had attracted around $16 billion worth of investments on projects alone and this must go towards the creation of employment and importation of technology into the country.
President Mnangagwa reiterated that as a result of his declaration that “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra the railway system and industry has been revived in the past six months.
Bulawayo and Gweru industries have slowly started showing strong signs of recovery and the President has attributed it to the conducive environment that has been created under the new dispensation.