Zimbabwe faces crippling power cuts going into 2024 after the Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) reduced water allocation for power generation at Kariba Dam due to poor rainfalls.
ZRA allocated 16 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water between Zambia’s Zesco Limited (Zesco) and Kariba Hydro Power Company (KHPC) for power generation operations at Kariba for 2024.
Early this year, the country was plunged into darkness after ZRA slashed water allocation for power generation at Kariba hydropower station from 40 to 30 BCM due to reduced water inflows in Kariba Dam.
In a statement, ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the reduced water allocation was informed by projections of normal to below 2023/24 rainfall.
“This general outlook is highly influenced by the increasing occurrence of El Niño weather conditions, which are expected to significantly negatively impact the rainfall season in southern Africa,” Munodawafa said.
“Hydrological simulations carried out by the authority using the Kariba Inflow Forecasting System that is based on satellite rainfall measurements and numerical weather forecasts, providing short-term and seasonal flow forecasts, considered the high likelihood of a below-average rainfall season which, in turn, will likely result in below average inflows into Lake Kariba thereby negatively impacting the volume of water available for power generation during the year 2024.
“Accordingly, power utilities have been advised to consider alternative sources of power to complement generation at Kariba in order to fill any power generation deficit that could arise due to the lower water allocation at Kariba for the year 2024.”
Kariba Dam, one of the largest man-made reservoirs, sits across the Zambezi River, which divides Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The two countries equally share the water resource for power generation.
Kariba’s hydro-power plant, which generates 1 050 megawatts (MW), was built by Italian contractors in the 1950s, and an expansion project was completed in March 2018 by Chinese contractor, SinoHydro Corporation.
As of yesterday, the country was generating 1 577MW, with Kariba accounting for 925MW.