Zambia’s state-owned utility has cut power production at its Kariba hydroelectric plant to one-quarter of its installed capacity due to drought conditions.

The 1080 MW plant is currently producing just 275 MW, a spokesman for the utility, Zesco Ltd, told the Reuters news service on Friday.

The ongoing drought has reduced water levels in Lake Kariba, a manmade reservoir which spans the Zambia-Zimbabwe border and supplies the plant with water from the Zambezi river, to 12 per cent of its capacity. At the same time last year, Lake Kariba’s water level stood at 53 per cent.  

The drought has been blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has led to low rainfall.

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe rely on the Kariba plant’s power and analysts say rationing could be implemented in both countries if conditions persist. In Zimbabwe, power from Kariba covers around half of the country’s 2200 MW demand.

Earlier this month Zambia requested 300 MW in emergency power from South Africa.