Copperbelt Energy Corp., a supplier of electricity to Zambian mines, is considering investing in neighboring Zimbabwe, where an official said independent producers are needed to help get new projects off the ground.
Copperbelt may provide power to the state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, or Zesa, which would supply mines and consumers in Zimbabwe, Michael Tarney, managing director of the Lusaka-based company, said at a conference today in Harare.
“We are at the early stages of looking into moving into Zimbabwe,” Tarney said. “We also have an interest in reviving Zesa’s defunct thermal power stations in Munyati and Harare, as well as helping out at Hwange.”
Demand for electricity in Zimbabwe is 2,200 megawatts, compared with production of 1,200 megawatts and imports of as much as 300 megawatts from southern African countries, according to Zesa. There has been no investment in power supply in Zimbabwe for the past 20 years, Patrick Chivaura, business development manager at Zesa, said at the conference today.
“Zesa and the government do not have the financial capacity to invest in new projects, so independent producers are needed,” Chivaura said.
A mining company based in Selous, northern Zimbabwe, has advanced $24 million to Zesa for a power plant that has now been commissioned, Chivaura said. RioZim Ltd., a Zimbabwean miner, has also been given a license to build the 2,400 megawatt Gokwe facility, he said, without providing further details.
RioZim is spending $3 billion on the plant near its Sengwa Coal Mine, the company said last month.
In June, Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri said Zimbabwe needs at least $5.3 billion to repair broken power generators and build new ones before it can meet demand for electricity.
Zimbabwe is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest power consumer after South Africa and Nigeria, according to the CIA World Factbook. The country is also the biggest energy importer in the Southern African Development Community, Tarney said. Electricity is imported from Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chivaura said.