COVID-19 slows down expansion of Zimbabwe’s major power plant

By Xinhua

HARARE: A 1.5 billion U.S. dollars project to expand Zimbabwe’s biggest coal-fired power plant by 600 megawatts by Chinese firm Sinohydro has fallen behind schedule due to travel restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to schedule, the project was supposed to reach 57 percent completion in the second quarter of the year, but is currently at 48 percent, power utility ZESA said in a statement Thursday.

“The novel coronavirus has had serious implications on the project’s progress as personnel cannot travel to or from China for manufacturing and procurement of equipment.

“The project, therefore, stands at 47.5 percent actual progress against a planned progress of 57 percent,” ZESA said.

The project started in late 2018 and is scheduled for completion in 2022.

The Chinese firm is adding two 300 MW power generators, to add to the existing six generators, that currently have an installed capacity of 920 MW.

The two new generators will boost the power plant’s installed capacity to 1,520 MW, making it the country’s biggest power station.

Sinohydro in 2018 completed yet another 300 MW power expansion project at the country’s second biggest power plant, Kariba South Power Station.

Completion of the Hwange expansion project is expected to go a long way in addressing power shortages in the country, and along with other power generation projects being implemented, enable Zimbabwe to produce surplus power by 2025.

Zimbabwe had recorded 6,251 COVID-19 cases, including 5,001 recoveries and 179 deaths as of Aug. 26, 2020.