Home » Business » Expansion of Kariba South Starts

Civil work on the expansion of Kariba South Power Station have begun, with engineers carrying out extensive blasting at the site as Government moves in to ease the country’s power shortages.

This is in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, which identifies energy and power development as key in production and economic development.

The US$355 million expansion project, that is expected to add 300 MW to the national grid, had been stalled by several unsettled preconditions ranging from monetary to technical issues between the contractor, Sino Hydro of China and the Zimbabwe Power Company.

ZPC is a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings. Most conditions have been met and China Exim Bank is expected to release funding early next month while ZPC has set July 15 as the deadline for meeting all its obligations, which include raising US$35 million (10 percent of the project).

A visit to the site by the newly appointed Zesa Holdings board last Thursday, revealed that blasting operations near the dam (Kariba) had commenced with 40 engineers and more than 100 employees working on the project.

ZPC managing director Mr Noah Gwariro said the outstanding financial clause processes were being finalised.

“The outstanding issues are to do with documents and agreements, which are required by the lenders (China Exim Bank),” he said.

“These we are working frantically to make sure that by the 15th of July all those documents are with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

“As you have, it is all systems go as blasting is being done on two fronts that is Adit 1 and Adit 2, material and equipment worth millions of dollars have been mobilised on site, the loan has been ratified by our Parliament and we are negotiating with local banks to provide the 10 percent (US$35 million) needed from our side.”

He added: “This is a big project and heavy equipment should be used and as such we have agreed with the contractor on the reputable manufacturers of major equipment like transformers, generators and turbines.”

Mr Gwariro said US$48 million would go towards maintaining and upgrading existing assets.

“Concerns have been raised about the maintenance issues on the Kariba Dam wall,” he said.

“The money is to make sure we maintain the plant and upgrade old archaic equipment and for now our control room has been upgraded and modernised. We also need to do the same with our switch gear, motors and other related equipment in the plant. Remember the special purpose vehicle will run Kariba as a complete unit, the existing assets and the additional two units.”

The two additional units to be built will boost Kariba South’s capacity from 750MW to 1 050MW.

Zesa Holdings chairman Dr Herbert Murerwa said the visit had made the board appreciate some of the challenges ZPC was facing in terms of the project’s expansion.

“This is one of the biggest projects being undertaken by Zimbabwe and we have been pleased by the progress we have seen,” he said.

“We are pleased that funding has been found and that this will add power to the national grid and greatly contribute to the stabilisation of energy supply in the country. The contractor is on the ground and we hope that outstanding issues will be concluded soon.”

Dr Murerwa said for Zim-Asset to succeed, projects like these had to be taken seriously.

“We have an economic blueprint in place and it needs all our efforts to ensure it is implemented to the fullest,” he said.

“All other sectors rely on the power that we provide and everyone should play his part to ensure that we become real enablers of economic growth.”

To increase the country’s power supply, Government recently awarded Sino Hydro a billion dollar contract to expand Hwange Thermal Power Station where two units with a capacity of generating 600 MW are expected to be built.

The expansion of the two power stations will see Zimbabwe producing 2 500MW which is enough to meet the national demand at peak periods standing at 2 200MW.

Currently the country produces 1 200MW.

Source : The Herald

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