The country’s hydro-electricity generation capacity has received a huge boost as the water levels in Lake Kariba continue to rise due to sustained rainfall activity in the Zambezi catchment area.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) yesterday said, normally during this period, water levels in the man-made lake should be decreasing, but it is the other way round this year. Most parts of Southern and Central Africa have been receiving above normal rainfall, especially in the aftermath of Cyclone Chalane which later weakened into tropical depression by the time it hit Zimbabwe.
“During the period under review (December 29, 2020 to January 11, 2021) due to earlier than usual rise in inflows from the immediate Kariba Lower Catchment – water levels have continued to rise steadily, closing at 478,43m (20,44 percent usable storage) on 7th January 2021, compared to 476,62m (7,77 percent usable storage) recorded on the same date last year,” ZRA said in a statement.
Kariba is designed to operate between levels 475,50m and 488,50m (with 0,70m freeboard) for hydropower generation. Before the rising water levels at Kariba, the country’s power supply was depressed due to repairs at Hwange Thermal Power Station and limited power imports from Eskom and EDM in South Africa and Mozambique, respectively.
Towards the end of last year, Zesa acquired new transformers and vehicles worth US$18 million. The power company is also investing heavily in drones and other surveillance technologies to combat vandalism and theft which sees it lose close to US$2 million per month.
ZRA is a bi-national organisation equally owned by the two governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Currently, ZRA is finalising preparations for the implementation of the 2 400MW Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES), whose dam site is located 47km downstream of the Victoria Falls.