Zimbabweans should brace for prolonged periods of power outages over coming months amid warnings that the dam supplying the country’s main hydroelectric power station has reached critical levels.
In a letter to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) seen by APA on Monday, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said ZPC had exhausted its 2022 allocation of water from Kariba Dam for power generation purposes.
The only available quota of usable storage capacity is now reserved for the Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO) with which ZPC shares Kariba Dam for power generation, Munodawafa said.
ZPC or Kariba Hydro Power Company (KHPC) operates Kariba South Power Station on the south bank of the dam while ZESCO runs Kariba North Power Station on the Zambian side.
“Given that the Kariba Reservoir usable storage currently stands at a paltry 2.98 bcm (billion cubic meters) or 4.60% full, and that ZESCO Limited still has a positive balance of 2.44 bcm (10.82%) as of 25th November 2022, ZPC/KHPC no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations at Kariba South Bank Power Station,” Munodawafa said.
He warned that the current 2022/23 rainfall season is unlikely to significantly improve inflows into Kariba Dam until “the later part of the first quarter of 2023.”
“If the current water utilisation above allocation at Kariba South Bank Power Station continues, the remaining water for power generation at Kariba (live storage) will run out by mid-December 2022 or much earlier.”
The warning comes at a time Zimbabwe is experiencing rolling power blackouts that have seen most residents going for up to 18 hours without electricity over the past year.
The ZRA manages the Kariba Dam on behalf of the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments.