Zimbabwe, which shares the Kariba dam with Zambia, was hoping that the new generators would help ease power shortages and load-shedding, which are common in the country.
“We have looked at the feasibility of the project and there is not enough water to run continuous power generation, unless they propose to do so during the rainy season peak periods,” Wilson Sakala, the Zambezi River Authority senior manager for Water Resources and Environmental Management explained.
“We fear that if it is continuously run, there won’t be enough water in the dam. However, when it’s not during the rainy season, the two units can run but only for shorter periods and that means when the dam is full to capacity, we no longer have to open the floodgates.”
But the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) insisted that it would go ahead with the project, as it was looking to expanding Kariba South to increase generational capacity.
“It has not been communicated to us that there are problems with our expansion project. In fact we have been advised that the water levels are always high in the Kariba Dam.
“Early this year, during a tour of the dam by Sadc, we were apprised on the advantages of adding two more units,” Fadzai Chisveto, ZPC spokesperson said.
However, the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (Zamcom), which administers the Zambezi River on behalf of the eight countries that are on the basin, says Zimbabwe’s only chance of increasing power generation is based on its ability to look for foreign investors.
“If Zimbabwe cannot buy enough power from the existing Sadc power pool, the only solution is for the country to open doors to partners that can fund its power projects,” Michael Mutale, Zamcom executive secretary said.
Countries on a cross-border water course like the Zambezi are supposed to inform each other of any projects that they are working on the river, so that it does not affect other nations who are either up or downstream.
There are eight countries on the Zambezi watercourse and these have to okay Zimbabwe’s plans on power generation, which also have to be approved by the ZRA, which administers the Kariba Dam on behalf of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Countries on the Zambezi watercourse are Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Malawi Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Sadc hopes for speedy resolution
Sadc hopes that the issue of adding more generators at Kariba power plant may be resolved accordingly. Phera Ramoeli, Sadc senior programme officer for water, said despite technical obstacles to Zimbabwe’s installing additional generating capacity at Kariba South, he expected a solution would be found.
“I am sure these are only technical issues but Zambia and Zimbabwe will iron out these between themselves and find a win-win solution since ZRA is a body that works in the best interests of the two,” he said.