Kariba Dam water allocation for electricity generation cut by almost half in 2024

  • The Zambezi River Authority has allocated 16 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of water to be shared equally between Zambia’s ZESCO Limited (ZESCO) and Zimbabwe’s Kariba Hydro Power Company (KHPC) for their power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2024.
  • The 2023 allocation was 30 BCM.
  • This means that Zambia will only be able to produce 214MW this year compared to 386MW in 2023.

This general outlook is highly influenced by the increasing occurrence of El Niño weather conditions, which are expected to significantly impact negatively, the rainfall season in Southern Africa. The 2023/2024 rainfall profile outlook implies a high likelihood of below-normal Zambezi River inflows into Lake Kariba.

The 2023/24 rainfall season performance of the lower Kariba Catchment thus far has been poor, resulting in below-normal inflows into Lake Kariba. On 27th December 2022, Ume, Sanyati and Gwayi Rivers of the Kariba lower catchment recorded 0 m3/s, 53 m3/s and 0.2 m3/s respectively, while on the same date this year (2023), Ume recorded 8 m3/s; Sanyati recorded 53 m3/s and Gwayi recorded 0 m3/s. The recorded lake level on 27th December 2023 was 477.12m with 7.25 BCM or 11.19% live storage.

With the two power generation utilities generating power within the confines of their respective water utilisation plans for the year 2023, the lake is projected to close the year 2023 at 477.23m with 7.78 BCM of live storage which translates to 12% live storage. It is recommended that the highest possible live storage be maintained going into 2024 as a buffer against the anticipated below-normal inflows.

The Authority continues to engage the two utilities through the weekly Joint Technical Committee meetings to ensure that they continue to adhere to their approved water utilisation and water for power generation to ensure sustainable management of the Kariba reservoir.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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