Zimbabwe escalates power cuts as Kariba dam water levels plunge

Zimbabwe faces severe power cuts as water levels at the Kariba Dam, the world’s largest man-made reservoir, plunge due to drought. The nation, currently in winter, has increased blackouts from two to ten hours daily, pushing businesses to use generators and solar power. With only 214 MW of electricity produced from a capacity of 1,050 MW, demand of 2,200 MW far exceeds the 1,206 MW supplied, exacerbating the energy crisis.

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By Ray Ndlovu

Zimbabwe has ramped up power cuts across the country as water levels at the world’s largest man-made reservoir plunged due to a severe dry spell, reducing the amount available for electricity generation.

The southern African, which is in winter, increased rotational blackouts from about two hours to as much as 10 hours on Monday, forcing businesses to resort to generators and solar power to run their operations. 

“The stored capacity at Kariba is 1,050 megawatts and we are only able to produce 214 megawatts on average because of the water rationing which has resulted out of low inflows in the lake,” Energy Minister Edgar Moyo told lawmakers, according to a transcript posted on parliament’s website on Monday. The artificial lake had 12.46% of usable storage on June 24 compared with 31.3% a year earlier, according to data available on the Zambezi River Authority’s website.

“On that perspective, after losing over 800 megawatts, it makes it very difficult to sufficiently supply power in the country,” Moyo said. 

Demand for power was estimated at 2,200 megawatts while supply stood at 1,206 megawatts, with the bulk coming from its thermal-fired power station in Hwange, according to data posted on the Zimbabwe Power Company’s website. Neighboring, Zambia, which also relies on Lake Kariba for power last month increased outages to 12 hours daily. 

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