Zimbabwe Ignores Kariba Water Quota to Zambia’s Detrament

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  • The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, will be engaging his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in a private “family conversation”  because Zimbabwe used more than its water quota for electricity generation and ignored the Zambezi River Authority’s regulatory requirements. 
  • The authority has called for higher penalties for overuse of water by countries. 
  • Hichilema cited poor engagements between the two countries as one of the reasons for the problem. 

“Many factors have contributed to our current state of low electricity generation but most importantly systems and information sharing, including optimal use of this shared resource are being largely ignored. We will engage all stakeholders about this,” he added in a tweet.

Zimbabweans are being subjected to 19 hours of power cuts a day. This is after water has dried up at Kariba, a hydro power source for the country and imported power cannot be paid for. Zimbabwe has a total of 2240 generation capacity the bulk of which comes from comes from Kariba hydro  (1.1MW) and 920MW from the Hwange Coal Power station. At the moment it is estimated that less than 500MW is currently generated in the country.

At the same time, Zambia has throttled back power supply to mines and domestic users as the Kariba crisis between the two countries deepens. Read more 

Related news: In August, Zimbabwe signed a five-year contract to import 100 megawatts of power a day from Zambia and the deal could not be consummated as Zambia was demanding payment upfront and had no foreign currency to pay. Read more

The dam falls under the management of the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a corporation jointly and equally owned by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has a power station on the north bank while Zambia’s is on the south bank of the dam.

Speaking after the tour addressing power generation stakeholders in Siavonga, Zambia, the other side of Kariba, Hichilema said he wanted what was best for both countries to be achieved through the management of the dam.

In late November the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has instructed the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Kariba Hydro Power Company Limited (KHPC) to suspend power generation at the South Bank Power Station until January 2023.

Related news: Tharisa mine in Zimbabwe to construct a 300MW solar facility

ZRA chief executive engineer, Mr Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said the suspension will be in place untill a further review of the substantive hydrological outlook at Kariba is undertaken which will include consideration of the total reservoir live storage build-up which is the cause for the requested shut down.

In a letter addressed to Zimbabwe Power Company and Zimbabwe state owned energy utiltiy, ZESCO, Munodawafa said there is highly unlikely that there will be any reasonable inflow augmentation in the remaining period of the year 2022, giving little or no chance of improvement in the reservoir storage levels during the remaining period of the year 2022 and going into the first quarter of the year 2023.

“Please be advised that as of 25th November 2022, Kariba South Bank Power Station had utilised 23.89 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of water, accounting for 1.39 BCM (or 6.16%) above the 2022 water allocation of 22.50 BCM.”

“Given that the Kariba Reservoir usable storage currently stands at a paltry 2.98 BCM or 4.60% full, and that ZESCO Limited still has a positive balance of 2.44BCM (10.82%) as of 25th November 2022, ZPC/KHPC no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations at Kariba South Bank Power Station.

With the current performance of the 2022/2023 rainfall season in the Kariba Lower Catchment where the river flows are yet to improve and the associated inflows from the Upper Kariba Catchment which will only influence any potential increase in the Lake Level at Kariba during the later part of the first quarter of 2023,” he said.

ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa told Hichilema the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (Zesco) followed the 2022 programme on power generation, but Zimbabwe’s Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) did not.

Munodawafa thus called for the introduction of higher penalties for the overuse of water at the Kariba Dam. “They can overuse and pay the penalties,” he said.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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