Chinese investment helping to boost Zimbabwe’s energy security

Power shortage- prone Zimbabwe expects to see a significant boost in its power generation capacity by the end of 2017 with the bolstering of the Kariba hydroelectric power plant adding an additional 300 MW.

Construction of two new generating units will account for the additional power to go with the  first 150 MW unit, according to Partson Mbiriri, permanent secretary at the Zimbabwean Ministry of Power and Energy, said.

China's Sinohydro is expanding the facility at a cost of $533m.

Power cuts in Zimbabwe last year often lasted 18 hours a day after output at Kariba slumped due to low dam water levels.

Kariba is currently producing just 285 MW out of its capacity of 750 MW but the country has increased power supplies this year by importing from South Africa and Mozambique.

Chinese investment in power is diverse. Chinese-backed China Africa Sunlight Energy was expected to begin work later this year on its 600 MW coal-fired power plant in Gwayi, western Zimbabwe, after holding talks on financing the project in China last week.

Meanwhile agreements have also been signed with mostly Chinese contractors to build solar and coal power stations that would produce at least 2000 MW but the deals have been hampered by a lack of financing.

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