Zimbabwe has started to institute planned rotational power cuts to reduce stress on its national grid, following low water levels at Kariba Dam, generation constraints at Hwange Power Station and limited imports from Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique.
Power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company on Sunday published load shedding schedules for the whole of the country.
“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand,” it said in a weekend statement.
While Eskom in South Africa has eight stages of load shedding, Zimbabwe has announced only two stages for now.
The power supplier divided the country into seven regions, and then further into districts or suburbs. It has given each district or suburb a numerical code.
This code is then checked against a regional table which has two time periods: Morning peak – between 05:00 and 10:00, and evening peak, between 17:00 and 22:00.
When power is cut, suburbs that fall within the time period lose power.
The same suburbs or districts will not generally have power cuts over the same day’s morning and evening peaks. When load shedding moves to Stage 2 and “increases beyond the planned limit” power to additional suburbs will be cut. The power cuts will be in five or eight hour blocks in different areas of the region or district.
Zimbabwe has had to implement power cuts, in part, due to poor rainfall in 2018 and 2019 that led to reduced inflows into Kariba Dam. The dam’s hydroelectric power stations supply electricity to both Zimbabwe and Zambia
Over the years Zimbabwe has been topping up its power supply by importing an average 100MW of power from Eskom and Mozambique, but will be forced to look for more given the current crisis.
Power imports from South Africa’s Eskom also cannot be guaranteed, with the power utility facing a fair share of its own challenges.
Analysts say the impact of the power cuts will be significant to industry, which cannot easily turn to the use of generators amid limited availability of fuel.