Electricity transformers inadequate to meet demand

By John Nhandara

ZIMBABWE’s electricity demand is expected to increase by more than 2 000 megawatts in the next three years, with the country embarking on an energy investment drive to offset the deficit.

To achieve this, government courting local power expansion projects, partnerships with independent power producers and contracts with regional power players to enter into import agreements.

ZESA Holdings consultant, Engineer Cletus Nyachowe, who was speaking on the sidelines of a tour of the power utility’s transformer manufacturing plant by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development, disclosed that demand for electricity is expected to increase over the next three years driven by mining and agricultural activities.

“We will have demand of 2 200 megawatts in the next three years. For example, the still plant in Manhize Chivhu will require 500 megawatts alone. So, we are currently working on ways of bridging the gap between supply and demand,” he said.

Meanwhile, ZESA Enterprises is operating below capacity in the production of transformers.

The enterprise, which has a production capacity of 3 000 transformers a year, is currently producing about 500 against a demand of 1 000 owing to challenges in procuring raw materials.

“We have the capacity, but we are operating below full capacity. We have shortages in foreign currency and also a backlog of 2 000 transformers which need to be installed,” said Burusa Mandipezano, the acting managing director of ZESA Enterprises.

The law makers pledged to probe relevant authorities on making sure the entity operate at full capacity.

“We want to do import substitution. It is cheaper to have the raw materials and assemble our transformers locally. It cuts costs, so we will engage relevant authorities,” said Honourable Joel Gabuza, chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development.

There is a backlog of more than 2 000 electricity transformers that need to be installed, while the power utility also has a backlog of 3 500 customers who should be connected to the national grid.