Zimbabwe shortlists bids for enlarging power plants
Zimbabwe has short-listed eleven bidders for the expansion of its Hwange and Kariba South power plants, with a winner expected to be announced in the third quarter of this year, its energy minister said on Tuesday.
It has been battling power shortages due to growing demand and ageing plants, limiting supplies to industry and the key mining sector. Zimbabwe produces around 1,000 MW of electricity, compared with peak demand of 2,200 MW.
The extension of the Hwange thermal power station will add 600 megawatts (MW) to the Zimbabwean national grid, while the extension of the Kariba South hydro plant will add 300 MW.
Elton Mangoma said companies from China, India, South Korea, Italy and Brazil were among the shortlisted and the firms have until the first week in June to submit a detailed proposal.
"I'm hoping that it will not take more than three months to adjudicate and thereafter award the tender. We are hoping that in the fourth quarter we can move on the projects," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an African power conference in Johannesburg.
Mangoma said additional units at the two plants will be operated in a public-partnership between the Zimbabwe government and whoever is chosen to build the plants.
The minister said Zimbabwe still owed around $85 million in unpaid power imports, mainly to neighbouring Mozambique.
Mangoma said he was meeting Mozambican officials on Thursday to address the issue, especially after Mozambique halved its exports to Zimbabwe to 50 MW due to the unpaid bills.
The minister said that together with neighbouring Zambia his country had in February decided to revive the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric power project, estimated to cost $2.5 billion, and expected to supply a total of 1,600 MW to the two countries.
The two neighbours will look for an independent power producer to construct the plant on a build-operate-transfer basis.
The 1,600 MW, which could later be upscaled to 2,000 MW, would be evenly split between the two countries, he said.
Mangoma said the project was in the preliminary stages and it would be too early to comment on time lines.
In the meantime, the minister hoped to convince utilities in the region to boost trade of electricity during off-peak times to alleviate the most pressing shortages.
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