Harare – Zimbabwe’s power utility company has launched a new 300-megawatt coal-fired unit with Chinese finance to try to ease repeated power outages the country has faced for years.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), said electricity started entering the national grid late on Monday from the unit at Hwange Power Station in the north-west.
“Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300MW,” the company said.
The company plans to open a second unit in October to boost production by 600MW.
The two units will cost $1.4 billion, with 85% of the cost financed by China’s state-run Sinohydro.
The southern African country is reeling under severe power shortages with not less than 16 hours daily load shedding which has crippled businesses and left households stranded.
Zimbabwe has long battled with outages but the problem has worsened in recent months with its main supply, a hydro plant at the giant Kariba Dam in the north, struggling with very low water levels caused by recurring droughts.
In December, power cuts were extended to up to 19 hours a day.
Hwange is the country’s largest coal-powered power station but it is currently operating at below half capacity due to poor maintenance.
The nation generates less than half of its 1,700 MW power demand for a population of 16 million.
Zimbabwe has been in economic crisis for more than 20 years. Electricity, fuel, food and medicines are all in short supply amid galloping inflation.