Zimbabwe’s long-running power crisis is set to worsen after the entity in charge of Southern Africa’s largest dam ordered the suspension of electricity generation at its main hydro plant due to a lack of water.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) informed the Zimbabwe Power Company in a letter dated Nov. 25 that the Kariba South hydropower station had used more than its 2022 water allocation and that the Kariba Dam’s usable storage was only 4.6% full.
The Zambezi River Authority manages the Kariba Dam on behalf of the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“The Zambezi River Authority is left with no choice but to firmly guide that … generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth until January 2023,” the letter stated.
Zimbabwe has been suffering from severe power shortages for several years, owing to poor inflows into the Kariba Dam caused by successive droughts, and to the failure of ageing coal-fired power plants.
To try to supplement the supply, the government has licensed some independent solar producers.
Despite having a 1,050 megawatt installed capacity, Kariba South has been producing much less than that because of the dam’s low water levels.