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ZESA to be disbanded

GOVERNMENT will soon disband Zesa Holdings into the National Grid Service Company as part of a restructuring exercise to make it efficient. 

This will also level the playing field ahead of entrance of independent power producers. 

Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma said this in a statement he delivered to the House of Assembly on measures Government was taking to improve power supply in the country. 

“It is proposed to restructure Zesa to make it more efficient and responsive to the consumers while at the same time, setting up a mechanism which will make it easy for independent power producers to have a level playing field. 

“Zesa Holdings was supposed to be only an instrument of holding shares in the successor companies. Instead it morphed into a huge bureaucracy negating the very point of establishing successor companies,” he said. 

Minister Mangoma said the NGSC would inherit all Zesa legacy debts and be 100 percent Government-owned. 

“NGSC will be responsible for transmission, market and systems operation. It will have ‘reserve supply’ responsibility,” he said. 

The current Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company will become the Zimbabwe Distribution Company and be responsible for electricity distribution. 

The other companies will be Zimbabwe Power Company, Zesa Enterprises and Powertel and will have separate boards reporting to Government. 

Turning to the supply of electricity, Minister Mangoma said Government had adopted a number of short-term measures to alleviate the plight of consumers that have had to endure long period of power outages. 

Among some of the strategies, he said, was optimisation of Hwange Power Station to improve its generation capacity from 300 to 500MW to its installed capacity of 900MW. 

He said funding for the project had been secured locally and rehabilitation of the plant would start soon. 

Minister Mangoma said Government was looking at reviving small thermal power stations that include Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati. 

He said Essar Holdings had agreed to lease Munyati Power Station and produce 140MW while funding for the other two was being sought. 

The Minister, however, said $6 million had been secured for Hwange Colliery to improve its operations and provide a constant supply of coal to the power stations. 

The other projects include the Gairezi hydropower station in Manicaland, with a generation capacity of 30MW, whose construction will commence in September at a cost of US$90 million.

He also said there were ongoing discussions to tap into solar power. 

“Solar plants can be put up very quickly. Current discussions are centering on whether there should be one plant or a number of them and signing of Power Purchase Agreement to buy all the power produced for a fixed period (between 5-10 years). 

“The main issue is acceptability of ZETDC as a party to the PPA,” he said 

Minister Mangoma said another pilot project was under way with a housing co-operative in Mutare to install solar panels on the roofs of their homes.

 “The electricity so generated will be used within their homes and the surplus fed into the grid. At night the homes will be supplied by Zesa. At the end of the month, the account will then be settled depending on the power produced and consumed.

 “The flow of the electricity will be measured using a reverse meter. The policy can be extended to anyone although it may be more applicable to new housing complexes as the panels will be part of the cost of the roof with no extra investment required,” Minister Mangoma said.

 Government, he said, was looking at doing a field map of the amount of coal bed methane gas reserves in Lupane before the construction of gas fired power plant.

 He said tenders would be floated before the end of this month or early next month for companies to carry out the projects.

 Minister Mangoma said as soon as the drilling to the exploration starts, temporary generators would be installed to produce up to 510MW.

 He said in the long-term Government was looking at the Batoka project that will be constructed with Zambia.

 The initial obstacles to the project, said the Minister, had been resolved with Zimbabwe agreeing to pay the $70 million it owed its neighbour with $10 million having already been paid.

 The Minister also said there was a need for Zimbabwe to be involved in the Great Inga Dam Project in the DRC that has a capacity of 40 000MW as part of regional efforts to have reliable power supplies.

 He said Zimbabwe had reduced its arrears to power suppliers in the region from over $100 million to just under $20 million and was negotiating for an increase in supply that is presently at 25MW. 

Zimbabwe requires at least 2 000MW but is producing around 1 100MW resulting in load-shedding.