Work on the expansion of Hwange Power Station is set to commence this quarter after the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) secured $400 million to start the program, an official said.
“Zimbabwe Power Company has found $400 million which is its contribution to the project and $9,7 million is the government support towards that project. Our plea is that the $9,7 million be released… We need this kind of support,” permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy Pattison Mbiriri told the parliamentary committee on mines and energy on Tuesday.
In the 2018 National budget, government allocated $9,7 million for the project which is yet to be released.
“We hope that it will start in the first quarter of this year, to the extent that all conditions precedent have been met,” added Mbiriri.
ZPC has been in talks with China Eximbank since 2014 for a $1,1 billion loan to finance the project.
The Hwange deal is part of the 2015 mega deals which were signed by former president Robert Mugabe and Chinese president Xi Jinping. Under the deal, China Eximbank was supposed to put up $1,2 billion with ZPC contributing about $200 million.
Upon completion the $1,3 billion upgrade will add 600 megawatts (MW) onto the national grid.
The coal fired power station has an installed capacity of 920 MW but the ageing plant produces around 500MW due to poor maintenance.
Chinese firm, SinoHydro was awarded the contract for the Hwange project in 2014.
Mbiriri also said that Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has awarded four companies a tender to procure and sell prepaid electricity meters to improve revenue collection.
So far Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has installed over 600,000 meters but is short of the 800,000 target.
“We have finished evaluating the applications for the supply prepaid meters. In the coming week we should have the list of registered companies to open up to the public,” ZERA technical director Misheck Siyakhatshana said.
Mbiriri also said that the country is in short of 4000 distribution transformers.