Bloomberg News

Zimbabwe Says ‘Huge Fault’ at Power Plant Caused Power Failure

April 27, 2012

Zimbabwe’s state-owned utility company, Zesa Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., says a “huge fault” at its Hwange thermal power plant won’t be repaired before tomorrow, leaving homes and businesses without power.

“We can’t draw power from Hwange at the moment,” Zesa spokesman Fullard Gwasira said in a telephone interview from Harare. Technicians and engineers are “working flat out” to fix the problem, he said.

Production at the coal-fired plant, Zimbabwe’s biggest, slumped to 81 megawatts yesterday, from 501 megawatts on April 24. While the facility has a 900-megawatt capacity, it rarely generates more than 500 megawatts because of aging equipment. Most of the 771 megawatts Zesa supplied yesterday came from its Kariba South hydroelectric plant.

Zimbabweans face daily electricity rationing because Zesa hasn’t met national demand of 2,200 megawatts since 2007. Power cuts are routine in the southern African nation because a 10- year recession that ended in 2009 resulted in underinvestment in equipment at plants including Hwange. Zimbabwe also imports power.

“We’ve been without power since early yesterday morning and still nothing,” Josh Dambadza, a furniture maker in Harare’s Mbare suburb, said today in a phone interview. “Since May 1 is a public holiday, I’m closing down until May 2.”

Imports of electricity, mainly from neighboring Mozambique, depend on Zimbabwe keeping its debt to that country’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa SA below $40 million, Energy Minister Elton Mangoma said April 12. Zesa consumers owe the utility more than $140 million, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham in Harare at blatham@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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