ZIMBABWE’S efforts to resolve a crippling power shortage have received a major boost after India’s largest power services company, NPTC Limited, expressed interest in building a 100-megawatt solar power plant in the country, a top Indian diplomat has said.
Zimbabwe’s power deficit has seen some parts of the country going for more than 18 hours a day without electricity. The situation has negatively affected economic growth through subdued industrial, commercial and household activities.
The country requires about 1 800MW at peak periods of demand, but is currently able to generate an average of 700MW due to drought and low water levels that have reduced hydropower generation at Kariba Dam.
Hwange Power Station’s capacity is also constrained due to old equipment.
Currently, Zimbabwe is bridging the power supply deficit with imports from the region. However, this is no longer reliable as the regional utilities are also facing their own internal supply challenges. Shortage of foreign currency is also presenting its own fair share of constraints in importing electricity.
Since the completion of Hwange Power Station in the mid-1980s, the country has seen very little investment in new generation capacity, but the Government has since licensed multiple power projects as it seeks self-sufficiency.
On its part, the Government is also undertaking two major projects — the Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8 to add 600MW to the national grid; and Batoka Gorge, which is being jointly implemented with Zambia. The 2 400MW to be generated from that project will be shared equally by the two neighbouring countries.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Rungsung Masukui said the giant Indian firm wants to invest in Zimbabwe’s power sector. Ambassador Masukui said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)between the Zimbabwean Government and the Indian firm had already been signed.
He added that several Indian firms were already operating in Zimbabwe. The include oil producers Surface Wilmar and Cangrow Trading, Varun Beverages and Splash Paints. The companies have maintained presence despite a tough operating environment.
Ambassador Masukui said Indian companies’ interest in Zimbabwe was also growing with the number increasing from seven in 2017 to 37 last year, while 25 registrations were recorded in the six months to June this year. He is expecting total registrations to exceed 50 by the end of this year.
“NTPC Limited, a huge Indian company in the power sector, which is a parastatal in India, is also looking at investing in the solar sector through a 100-megawatt plant. They will be coming to explore the opportunity.
“They have just signed an MoU (with the Government of Zimbabwe), but they will come and explore the possibility of building a solar power plant in Zimbabwe. NTPC Limited is one of the biggest parastatals in India. It produces about 60 000 megawatts,” Ambassador Masukui told The Sunday Mail Business.
NTPC was formed in 1975 to accelerate power development in the Asian country and has established itself as a dominant power producer with presence in the entire power generation value chain. From fossil fuels, it has expanded into generating electricity via hydro, nuclear and renewable energy sources.
The total installed capacity of the company is 57 106 watts (including joint venture stations). lt has 23 coal-based power plants, seven gas-based stations, two hydro-based stations and one wind -based station.
Ten joint venture stations are coal based while 11 are solar PV projects.
By 2032, non-fossil fuel based generation capacity shall make up nearly 30 percent of NTPC’s portfolio.
In October 2004, NTPC launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) consisting of 5,25 percent as fresh issue and 5,25 percent as offer for sale by the government of India.
In February 2013, the government of India further divested 9,5 percent shares through an OFS route.
With this, GOI’s holding in NTPC has reduced from 84,5 percent to 75 percent. The rest is held by institutional investors, banks and the public.
India is the world’s fifth biggest economy by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP).