Kariba South power station expansion “ill-advised”

The expansion of Kariba South power station has been slammed as ill-advised after it emerged that just 40 megawatts of the hoped-for 300 megawatts would be realised.

Director of Energy and Information Logistics Francis Masawi said the greater percentage of the expected power generation would be lost during transmission onto the national grid. He added that the $350m cost of the plant should have been directed to fund more productive projects.

Masawi said the plant would only operate 30 per cent of the time, as there wasn’t adequate energy on the side of the lake, leading to a decline in power output to 90 megawatts. Forty per cent of that would then be lost.

Chinese firm Sino Hydro won the contract to expand the country’s second largest power station, and work is reported to have started early last month, after China Export-Import Bank assured the release of funds.

Starting the project was subject to the government clearing its $27m debt with the bank.

Under the agreement, the contractor designs the plant, buys the necessary materials and builds the project, either directly or by sub-contracting some of the work.

The expansion project will take about four years to complete and was supposed to significantly narrow the gap between electricity supply and demand.

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