THERE was a time when Zimbabweans were grappling with daily power outages, and it was beyond reason for many that the country could ease the daily occurrence, especially as it was a regional challenge, but now homes have the lights thanks to a cocktail of measures that were introduced by President Mnangagwa from 2018.
Like a host of SADC nations, Zimbabwe has been saddled with power deficits that have been exacerbated by rapid industrialisation which is not matched by energy supplies. To fill that deficit the country developed several power sources that include the Hwange Units 7 and 8, which are now both on stream while smaller hydro-electricity projects from dams that are being constructed in every province will add more power to the national grid.
It is not only domestic consumers who now have guaranteed power supplies but also industries and farmers have benefited immensely from the power supply to respectively drive their industrial equipment and also irrigate their crop with the country registering record-breaking wheat harvests.
Resultantly, the country’s industrial sector is thriving with utilisation standing at over 70 percent, while successes in the agriculture sector have seen the country achieving food security with a surplus for export.
Milestones have also been registered in the mining sector where the country is inching towards becoming a US$12 billion mining economy from the pre-Second Republic economy of US$2.8 billion.
Increased power generation has helped the country power old mines that have been revived under the Second Republic, establishment of new mines and expansion of existing mines such as Unkie, Murowa Diamonds and Bikita Lithium, among others.
Behind the success stories is President Mnangagwa’s vision to make the country energy self-sufficient, a promise that was contained in his Zanu PF party’s 2018 Election Manifesto.
Long-term solutions to the energy situation in the country include but are not limited to the Batoka Gorge hydropower station which is a 2.4GW run-of-the river hydroelectric project on the Zambezi River with that output shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The SADC region as a whole has a serious energy deficit, which stands beyond 35 000 megawatts. Zimbabwe, in its quest to become an upper middle class economy, has invested billions in the pivotal sector that drives morderisation and industralisation.
In June 2018, President Mnangagwa commissioned the $1 billion Hwange 7 and 8 power expansion project with 600 megawatts capacity and true to his word, within his five-year tenure, the country is now energy self-sufficient.
The continued improvement in power generation is helping Zimbabwe reduce electricity imports and ease power cuts. This is driving increased industrial production as there is now guaranteed electricity supply, a key economic enabler and driver towards the realisation of Vision 2030.
According to the 2018 Zanu PF Election Manifesto, President Mnangagwa assured Zimbabweans that the country would be self-sufficient within five years, committing to implement the Hwange Power Station 7 and 8 expansion project.
“The party and Government will facilitate investments in the energy sector by both public institutions and Independent Power Producers in order to ensure consistent availability of efficient and affordable energy to all citizens,” he said.
And true to his word, the President delivered as the Hwange Thermal Power Station is performing at its best in as many years, generating about 740 megawatts. To illustrate the enormity of this feat, at one point its production levels once dropped to a mere 74 megawatts.
Power China, which synchronised the Hwange Thermal Power Station, recently said: “Unit 7 of Hwange Power Plants was officially integrated into the national grid, adding 300MW of electricity to the national grid.
“The output of Hwange 8 first achieved its full capacity of 355MW on June 13, and then Unit 8 will subsequently carry out a series of performance experiments. Meanwhile, the total amount of electricity produced by the Hwange Power Station has reached a record 740MW.”
There have been intermittent cases of black outs as the Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7 and 8 were undergoing synchronisation processes for them to feed into the national grid, with pessimists running amok painting a gloomy picture for Zimbabwe, but the present and indeed the future is bright.
In the compendium of projects implemented by the Second Republic during the period 2018-2022, President Mnangagwa said his administration has for the past five years remained resolute in its determination to uplift the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe.
“The transformative agenda has hugely steered industry and commerce into production across all sectors of the economy, which include agriculture, mining, construction, transport, communication, manufacturing and social services, among others.
“Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdowns, illegal economic sanctions, climate change-induced disasters and negative geo-political factors, the country has tenaciously continued to chart its developmental trajectory with significant milestones being registered on delivering people-centric programmes and projects,” he said.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo, said a total of 6 869 projects were implemented across the country.
“Delivering infrastructure was prioritised as a distinct strategy and key enabler for vibrant socio-economic growth and development,” he said.
Now with water supply in Kariba, the source of the country’s hydro-power, having greatly improved, the electricity supply in the medium term has been ramped up, but still the Second Republic has long term projects in store.
Speaking during the election campaign launch in Chipinge recently, President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic had achieved a lot of milestones in infrastructure development, electricity generation and in the mining sector, which has grown from being a US$2,7 billion industry in 2017 to a US$6 billion industry last year.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa recently said the Second Republic had invested a lot in addressing electricity supply.
She said the expansion of Kariba Hydropower Station to add 300MW and the expansion of Hwange power Station to add two new Units with a combined 600MW, was no mean achievement.
Further, six old units at Hwange are also being rehabilitated to improve electricity generation.
A resident of Warren Park suburb in Harare, Mr Lovemore Munhango, thanked the Government for improving the electricity situation.
“We were having serious electricity challenges, in some cases going for 18 hours without electricity. But since the completion of Hwange’s Units 7 and 8, we have been enjoying constant power supplies. This is commendable and we salute the Government for that,” he said.
Another Harare resident, Mrs Mildred Matema, said the steady availability of electricity was a clear sign that the Second Republic is walking the talk on delivering electricity to the people and industry.
“Electricity supplies are now consistent these days. We are very happy with the situation. We had suffered a lot under load shedding, but that is now over.
“Our only plea is for Zesa to review downwards its tariff which I feel is now beyond the reach of many people,” she said.
Mr Tendai Mandeya, a Rusape businessperson, hailed President Mnangagwa for delivering on his election promises.
“In 2018, the President assured us that the nation would be self-sufficient in terms of energy. Electricity is now in abundance, which is what we all wanted in urban areas,” he said.
Mrs Priscilla Saizi said while electricity was now abundant, Zesa should upgrade its system which is giving customers a hard time during the first days of each month.
“We appreciate the availability of electricity, but our major concern is that almost every month during the first five days we are having challenges in topping up our tokens. Zesa should upgrade its systems,” she said.