Zimbabwe’s emerging power projects have the potential to earn at least US$3 billion in annual energy exports from the current position of energy insufficiency, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said.
Minister Chitando said this when he addressed a news conference in Harare yesterday to give a summation of President Mnangagwa’s two-day working visits of coal mining and power generation projects in Hwange earlier this month.
Speaking in Hwange during the visit, President Mnangagwa said he had been impressed by work on the ground which he said will lead Zimbabwe not only to achieve energy self-sufficiency, but also into being an energy exporter.
Power generation projects visited by President Mnangagwa in Hwange include Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine which is envisaged to produce 750 Megawatts (MW) on completion.
Also working on power generating projects are Western Areas (600MW), Jinan (600MW), Tsingshan (100MW) and Zimbabwe Zhongxin Electrical Energy (430MW).
Most of these projects are expected to start running from 2023. Also on the way is a coal bed methane (CBM) power plant for which the Government expects to sign a deal for the construction of a 450MW power station before the end of August.
Plans are also at an advanced stage for the establishment of a 2 100MW power station in Binga, but modalities of this project are still being worked.
“In addition to that (power projects in Hwange), there will be an agreement that will be signed before the end of August for a CBM power plant which will, when operational, generate 450 MW of electricity,” said Minister Chitando.
“There are plans for the establishment of a 2 100MW power station in Binga. The combined projects, the ones visited by His Excellency (in Hwange) and the other ones (being worked on) will give us 5 030MW.
“Now, if you look at it from a perspective that with Hwange 7 and 8 coming on stream and an element that various mining companies are undertaking a number of solar interventions which when fully rolled out will result in over 500MW being added into the grid.
“So we are looking at 5 030MW purely being electricity for export. So if one assumes a tariff of 7 US cents per kilowatt hour (kwh) it means we are looking at an electricity export industry of US$3 billion when fully rolled out,” said Minister Chitando.
Government’s calculations premised on 7 US cents kwh are rather conservative considering the energy deficit that is expected to hit Southern Africa in the medium to long-term.
Already South Africa, the region’s economic and industrial powerhouse, is experiencing power outages, a situation that is expected to push power prices up.
The region is also experiencing a steady increase in industrial productivity which has seen the World Bank projecting demand for electricity to increase by 40 percent over the next 10 years.
SADC member states, among other strategies, are being encouraged to cooperate on electricity usage and development and promote power pooling and trade.