Hwange Unit 7 commissioning delayed again as several current Units break down, it’s ridiculous

Leonard Sengere Avatar
Hwange ZESA

I knew I should not get my hopes high but I did it anyway. It was ill-advised but sometimes you just have to be an optimist. The electricity situation will not be improving any time soon, I have to accept that. Hwange Unit 7 will not save us.

Mid-February we were told that Hwange Unit 7 would finally be going online before March and that it would drastically improve the electricity situation. I so wanted it to be true that I half-believed it. Hope is a dangerous thing.

We are now in March and Unit 7 is still not online. They say it will be commissioned in two weeks’ time. So, we went from ‘by February’s end to mid-March, in terms of ETA.’ Said the minister of Energy and Power Development,

According to Zesa, Unit 7 shall be tied on the grid on the 16th of this month while Unit 8 will come on board a month later.

I want to believe this but I’m failing to. This Unit has been close to commissioning for months and it’s starting to feel like that’s how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.

So, where I thought we would be exporting electricity by now, we are actually in a worse position. As some of you warned when we talked about Unit 7 going online, Units 1-6 are still old and prone to breakdowns. Those breakdowns have hit again.

Several Units at Hwange break down

The news is that several units have broken down. ‘Several’ is not a good word when you are talking about only 6 units to begin with. Four out of six units have broken down. One Unit has been MIA for a while so, yes, we are down to one working unit at the moment.

This has meant Hwange is operating at only 10% of its 920MW capacity. From that 10% capacity Hwange was generating 72MW on the 1st of March. I will remind you that national demand is 1700MW in the summer and 2200MW in the winter.

We are told Unit 7 and 8 will add a combined 600MW to the grid and when (if?) that happens we will actually be able to export electricity. Not even in a drunken stupor would I believe that but it’s a good goal to have I guess.

As is always the case, engineers are hard at work to fix these old units and are at various stages of completion. This is what they are dealing with,

  • Unit 4 was switched off on 15 February after developing a boiler tube leak
  • Unit 1 was taken off on February 24 after a high-pressure fan got damaged
  • Unit 3 was stopped on February 24 after developing a tube leak
  • Unit 6 was switched off on February 23 after developing a tube leak
  • Unit 5 tripped in October 2021 due to excessive turbine vibrations

All the talk about Unit 7 makes it feel like we would be up to 8 units when the reality is that we would be up to one.

Kariba in shambles too

The situation over at Kariba is just as depressing. Kariba was generating 240MW yesterday, the 1st of March. Again, national demand sits at over 1700MW at its lowest.

Engineers at Kariba have this to contend with,

  • Unit 4 was taken out on July 20 2022 due to a damaged turbine runner
  • Generator 1 was switched off on February 2 2023 for turbine runner inspection. Inspections were completed but it’s been placed on annual maintenance
  • Unit 8 tripped on 20 December 2022 due to GTx 8 fault and is being replaced
  • Unit 6 was taken out on December 16 2022 for an annual overhaul and machine cooling water pipework replacement

With all this going on, you can clearly see that low water levels have been mostly an excuse. It is true that water levels are low, even if they have improved to 13.5% right now. However, even if water levels reached 100%, we still have a lot of work over at Kariba. We are nowhere near being able to operate at 100% capacity.

That’s the situation. From all this it is hard to conclude that we will be exporting electricity in a few months’ time like the government is saying. I would bet the little that I have that that’s not going to happen.

Also read:

New Hwange Unit 7 set to add 300MW to the national grid, time to embrace coal?

ZETDC installs its first smart meter at Harare Poly. But what is a smart meter anyway?

ZETDC’s 350 000 household connection deficit. What if…?


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  1. Ambush

    2 or 3 months before e elections miraculous things are going to start happening for start load shedding will be a thing of the past, unit7-8 are going to be connected and 35% of zanu’s campaign strategy depends on it..

    1. Leonard Sengere

      It does feel like that’s how it’s going to happen. They are good at strategising.

    2. ghost

      That would be foolish if that is a strategy because by then who would still believe that we won’t be going back to load shedding after elections.

  2. Dhiva

    instead of rehabilitating unit 1 to 6.. why can’t we just focus on bringing 7 and 8 online then work on building a fresh new units 1 by 1… this game of putting bandages on a dead thing isn’t doing anyone any good. Tatojaira kugara tisina magetsi they can as well take their time building new units. tato adpta kare isu

    1. Leonard Sengere

      That could be a good idea actually. All the time and effort is being wasted. It’s a losing battle with those old units. But it would be political suicide.

    2. Jr.

      That’s a good idea…if we can survive with 77Mw generation as a country,,,,then 600MW of combined output of unit 7 and 8 will be good and hence allow construction of new units from stretch because these rehabilitations of old units are contributing to high operational and maintenance costs

    3. Anon

      I thought I was the only one who thinks it’s better to concentrate on getting 600MW from units 7&8 first and then attend to the ever breaking down older units later if necessary or just demolish them and replace with newer and obviously more modern ones.

    4. Night owl

      With how this government does its business, i bet you they will set up a commission first go to Victoria falls and have a meeting discussing if they should actually keep repairing e old ones or build new ones after the 9th or 10th meeting then decide to go abroad at look at what others are doing (all this will be done using tax payers money)

      1. Vladimir Harkonnen

        Everything done by this government is the bare minimum, half a*sed stuff, no wonder nothing works in this country. Zimbabwe needs new power plants not expansions of unreliable existing power plants or endless refurbishments that will cost the country more in the long run because of breakdowns. If there have aspirations of growing the economy(they don’t), only a massive increase of power generation through new diversified power plants can work

    5. Tapiwakayurwa

      Zim can’t bring 7&8 online because it owes china. It has to pay the debt before the plants are handed over.

  3. Anonymous

    Correction, we are already exporting 80mw as we speak. We are still in loadshedding, but exporting nonetheless

    1. Anonymous

      The reason why Zimbabwe is exporting 80MW, is because of agreements they signed with Namibia power utility way back in early 2000s….their agreement is now affecting us…

    2. Leonard Sengere

      I still don’t know how that Namibia deal came about. Where we energy sufficient at the time? Or was it some political favour?

      1. Anon

        I think Zimbabwe needed some funds to rehabilitate one/some of the Hwange units back to hen and Namibia cane up with the money with conditions

        1. Thomas Mahachi

          We’re still at par to have electricity in our houses and industrial

    3. The Empress

      We aren’t exporting because we have plenty we’re exporting in order to pay off a debt we owe nampower.
      Think of it this way we are paying for the chicken that we ate in 2008 . It just sounds better to say that we are exporting when in reality we are just paying back what we owe in electricity instead of money.

      1. Mr Why

        Namibia invested in Hwange Power Station that guarantees it it gets electricity from Zesa that’s why Zimbabwe is exporting to Namibia. you can google to get the details

  4. The Empress

    I was actually wondering if Zimbabwe was going to make history by doing the impossible . Because what I know is that any new factory will always have teething problems that’s why it is never wise to set a hard date months in advance about when it will be up and running.
    In reality all over the world when the big shots turn up to cut ribbons and press the big red button they aren’t actually doing anything because the machines would have actually been running for at least a few days at that point and the pressing of Big Red Buttons is all just political theatre
    Exporting electricity ? What a joke!

  5. MinuteMan

    But anyone can see this is where the road end
    Everything has broken down. Thats the Zimbabwean way of doing things, sad stories upon sad stories. Poverty is a reality
    Too many useless degrees that are not helping anyone

    Zesa has taken the nation back to stone age

  6. King

    200 high efficiency wind turbines can provide half of our electricity requirement at around the cost of “one unit” at Hwange. Time to embrace renewables and dump dirty coal.

    1. Anonymous

      Zimbabwe is not even windy bruv. Them wind turbines will not cut it

  7. Mr Why

    Government chefs had asked ZPC to crank up to the max the available units so ZANU Pf would not lose the elections and here we are: the units were driven to final death in desperate hopes of saving ZANU. Now Zimbabwe will be driven into darkness when ZPC ignored experts! Political interference 101.

    1. Watsupp

      We are screwed

  8. Mabhena

    Brain drain at ZPC. Inexperienced recent graduates in high positions.

  9. Eng. C. Machiri

    ZPC is owing money a lot of suppliers the extent that the majority of the duped suppliers are heavily indebted.
    This is partly the challenge which ZPC is facing. No supplier is able to supply anymore unless is cash upfront. Unless if suppliers are paid we will continue to be in the dark. Engineers can do so much but without spares it will come a time when improvising is impossible.

    1. Nurf

      I thought engineering was about solving problems. Lack of spares is not an excuse for failing to deliver. When NASA started building rockets they didn’t have tools and they also didn’t have money as the government wasn’t willing to invest in a space program which wouldn’t give any returns the engineers started to improvise they made their own parts using available resources they fabricated their own tools from scratch using inferior equipment.They had a goal and they made sure they achieved it at whatever cost,this eventually caught the eye of the new president who was John F Kennedy.He saw that with these guys going to the moon was possible so he funded them after they had proved that they have what it takes.HIT has a well equipped tool and die workshop capable of fabricating parts for use in situations you have stated but there is no initiative hence no one even attempts to make use of this workshop.The equipment is rotting whilst its new.The culture in Zimbabwe is to wait for someone else to solve the problems faced.Our engineers prefer to do things the easiest way possible.We will always have electricity challenges in this country.

  10. Samson Chandatadzirwa

    Most Mercedes Benz cars are designed to reach speeds of up to 260km/h. That doesn’t mean kuti that’s the speed they’ll be traveling at every time they’re on the road. Same thing with the new units at Hwange. We’ll be lucky to get at least 500MW tops from units 7 and 8 when they’re both fully functional.

  11. Papa’s Pizzeria

    Nice information. I got a lot of information.

  12. Michael Laban

    Which Unit is the Namibian’s?

  13. Anonymous


    Was watching or reading a paper around Christmas time when the energy Min said things would be better as they were commissioning units soon… well l do not know if it will happen this century. Thats just me being realistic. Remember there was the railway line to Chitungwiza in the previous century if l am not mistaken, which barely made over the flyover if it left the station at all. So given the track record of certain people. It was wishful thinking to assume a change from their usual M.O.

    Seriously though, assuming the same people working on Kariba and Hwange have been at it for l think close to a decade and there is no tangible proof, should we not then start concluding maybe they do not know what they are doing?

    l am aware these projects take a long time to pull off but a decade and there is more or less nothing to show for it, at some point maybe people should reevaluate those people.

    To state a possibly stupid or controversial argument, why not just re-engage the guys who did the original work in Hwange and Kariba? Surely they set these things up so they should be able to refurbish or upgrade them.

    I think their technology, designs and workprocesses are not compatible with these guys who are currently onsite. So l really think bringing back the guys who designed and manufactured these would be the best.

    Let those others design something new and lets see if they know what they are about. As someone said, why do we keep trying to resuscitate a terminally ill patient. Rather we let nature take its course and start with shall, we say new born?

    Anyway just my thoughts.

  14. GG

    In 1983 parliamentarians visited Kariba where they saw equipment secured with condoms and criticised ZESA for shody business .The parliamentary team was told that there was lack of spare parts and up to now we are still we are still gropping in the dark.
    Chinhu chenyu chaora ichi.

    1. Brand new condom

      What Tha heck🤣🤣🤣

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