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Zambia's Kariba hydropower output drops to 25 pct of capacity
23/01/2016 00:00:00
by Reuters

LUSAKA: Zambia's state power utility Zesco Ltd has cut electricity generation to a quarter of capacity at its Kariba hydropower plant due to low water levels, the company said on Friday.

The Kariba North Bank power station is generating 275 megawatts (MW) out of a total installed capacity of 1,080 MW, Zesco spokesman Henry Kapata said.

Water levels in southern Africa's Lake Kariba have dropped to 12 percent of capacity, the authority in charge said on Tuesday, following a prolonged drought that threatens crops across the Southern African region where the United Nations has warned that 14 million people face hunger.

Zambia is currently generating a total of 1,129 MW of electricity from its hydropower stations, including Kariba, Kafue Gorge and Victoria Falls, and importing 250 MW mainly from a private firm in neighbouring Mozambique, Kapata said.

Zambia's economy has been hit by the electricity shortages as well as weak copper prices and put the currency on the back foot against the dollar.

Kapata said daily power blackouts were lasting eight hours on average, or longer when imports are constrained because of higher demand within exporting countries.

"We have a power deficit of 630 MW as of January 2016 although we expect this to reduce to below 160 MW by August 2016 as mitigation measures are put in place," he said.

The measures include bringing forward new power projects such as a 300 MW coal-fired plant due to start output in June and additional power imports.

Zesco also planned to distribute 1.4 million energy-saving bulbs after the government banned ordinary bulbs and this would cut the country's power usage by about 200 MW, Kapata said



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