The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Friday, December 20 the Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project Phase II (EPIRP II) in Zimbabwe. The financing comes in the form of a US $17.52-million grant from the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ZimFund) housed in the AfDB.
The objective of EPIRP is to improve the availability and reliability of electricity supply through the rehabilitation of generation, transmission and distribution facilities. This involves specifically the electricity supply to critical social infrastructure facilities and to the inhabitants of the seven targeted areas of Zimbabwe – Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, Harare and Hwange. Together these areas have a combined population of 5 million people.
“The EPIRP II is the second energy-sector project financed through the AfDB-administered Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund,” explained Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department. “We chose to support this project because it is in line with Bank Group’s Strategy for 2013-2022, which emphasizes infrastructure development for inclusive economic growth, including green growth; but also because it aligns with our new Energy Policy, whose objectives include supporting regional member countries to provide modern, affordable and reliable energy services to their populations and productive sectors,” he added.
Phase I of the EPIRP was designed to improve the provision of adequate and reliable electricity in an environmentally sound manner. This will happen through the rehabilitation of the Ash Handling Plant at the Hwange Power Station and the power transmission and distribution facilities in the country. Phase II is designed to further the benefits gained under Phase I interventions and to address issues that are not covered in Phase I. When complete, Phase II will enable full utilization of national produced capacity through restoration of transformer capacity. Utilized installed capacity will rise from 1,237 MW in 2013 to 1,960 MW by 2016 – with due attention to environmental safety and protection.
The key outputs of EPIRP II include: (i) rehabilitated transmission and distribution networks (repaired and replaced cables, overhead lines and transformers and their related accessories); and (ii) rehabilitated or refurbished systems at Hwange Power Plant comprising the Ash Dam for Stage I and Stage II; the Dust Suppression Plant for coal including the Handling Plant of Stage I and Stage II; the Dirty Drain System for Stage I and Stage II; and a replaced Vacuum Cleaning Plant for Stage I and Stage II. The estimated cost of the entire project is US $32.94 million – US $15.42 million for Stage I and US $17.52 million for Stage II. It is expected that Stage I of the Project will be completed by May 2016.
The Hwange Power Plant will have improved environmental quality conditions as a result of the Phase II Project. The target beneficiaries – the general public, industries and institutions – will benefit from increased firm substation capacity, more available and reliable electricity, reduced load shedding, more stable water supplies and the ability to ramp up operating capacity for industry. The percentage of customers with access to firm transformer capacity at transmission level should increase from 32 per cent in 2013 to 63.5 per cent in 2016. This will translate into both economic and social benefits as a result of reduced power outages due to transformer faults.
The political and economic situation in Zimbabwe for the last decade has severely affected all sectors of the economy, including infrastructure. In this regard, the AfDB has identified the rehabilitation of key power sector assets as the fastest and least-costly option for restoring the country’s capacity to increase electricity supply to meet part of the current demand and enhance system stability.