NamPower Switches on Zesa

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Namibia has started receiving the first 40 megawatts from Hwange Power Station as part of a multi-million-dollar, 150 megawatts deal signed last year between NamPower and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa).

NamPower spokesperson, John Kaimu, yesterday told New Era that the power started flowing from Zimbabwe on January 3.

Last year, NamPower signed a US$40 million (N$290 million) Power Purchase Agreement with Zesa. The money was to be used for the resuscitation of four units at Hwange Power Station.

Under the agreement Namibia would receive 150 megawatts from the coal-fired Hwange Power Station.

It was agreed at the time of signing that the first 40 megawatts would be received by early this year.

Managing Director of NamPower, Paulinus Shilamba, described the flow of electricity from Zimbabwe as a great relief.

He said Namibia relies on South Africa for power imports. However, of late Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, has been struggling to meet both domestic and regional demand.

Shilamba said the 40 megawatts would cushion Namibia when Eskom fails to supply the required amount of power.

Next week Friday Eskom will be involved in some upgrading work and it is inevitable that Namibia will experience disruptions, Shilamba said.

He was, however, quick to point out that the country is ready to manage such eventualities.

Kaimu added that the power from Zimbabwe would reduce Namibia’s dependency on Eskom.

“It (40 MW) will make a difference in terms of the imports from South Africa. We will cut 40 megawatts from Eskom,” said Kaimu.

So far, NamPower has transferred more than half of the US$40 million to Zimbabwe.

NamPower is responsible for funding equipment procurement and labour costs, while Zesa caters for local costs.

Apart from the US$40 million to be transferred to Zimbabwe for revamping the power station, NamPower in December announced it would have to fork out an additional US$10 million for the same project.

Additional funding was found necessary after an inspection of the four units to be revamped at the aging power station.

NamPower said the additional amount would be sourced from NamPower’s internal sources.

Yesterday Kaimu said the US$10 million has not yet been released as the two parties (NamPower and Zesa) were still negotiating additional power allocation.

“NamPower is still to sign an agreement with Zimbabwe, we are still negotiating on maybe an extra 30 to 35 megawatts,” Kaimu said.

NamPower said substantial progress has been made on the rehabilitation of the first unit at the power station.

“Structures have been put in place and most of the spare parts have already arrived on the site. The bulk of the turbine spare parts were received at Hwange in October,” NamPower said.

Electricity from the Hwange Power Station is being routed to Namibia through South Africa until NamPower’s Caprivi Link Interconnector is operational.

Meanwhile, NamPower together with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are to embark on a project that will ensure that Hwange Power Station is linked to Victoria Falls via Botswana and Namibia.

According to Kaimu, the project known as Zizabona will complete the link and create a corridor for power import and export to the four countries.

“Zizabona will create the alternative route for power import from neighbouring countries,” said Kaimu.

Last month the four countries were scheduled to meet in Victoria Falls to discuss the project.

Only NamPower and Zambia have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Zimbabwe and Botswana did not attend the meeting due to other pressing issues but the MoU documents were circulated for them to sign, NamPower said.

Zizabona is expected to run concurrently with the rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station.

Kaimu said the project is vital because of the power situation in the region.

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