More companies apply to generate/ procure electricity. ZESA monopoly over?

Leonard Sengere Avatar

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that it’s important to diversify our energy sources. Can you imagine where we would be if our hopes and dreams were in hydroelectric power alone? Kariba has been struggling to generate enough power due to changes in rainfall patterns and droughts.

The 600MW that our brand spanking new units at Hwange are producing (or should be producing) could not be more appreciated.

However, our biggest sin in putting eggs in one basket is not in our choice of energy sources. No, it is in our reliance on one electricity producer. For too long we have relied on one organisation – ZESA – and that has not really worked out well for us.

That is slowly changing. The change is driven by necessity as ZESA has failed to perform but at this point, who cares how it came about? What’s important is that we are getting more and more power producers.

We have households hoisting solar panels atop their houses and relying less and less on the national grid. That’s good to see. However, what about industry? They can’t really grab the cheap Chinese solar panels that dominate the market and produce enough electricity to run their (oftentimes older and inefficient) machinery.

Businesses are now investing in their own power production, and some new businesses are emerging with the sole purpose of sourcing and supplying electricity to other businesses.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority recently notified us of some applications by organisations that wish to do just that.

100MW wind farm

Centragale (Pvt) Ltd wants to construct, own, operate and maintain a 100MW wind farm at Mamina, Mhondor Ngezi. The electricity generated will be sold to Dinson Iron and Steel Company.

A new substation will have to be built as well as a 30km line to carry the electricity from the wind farm to the substation.

Now, this is great on many fronts. 100MW is a significant amount of electricity. The country’s electricity demand in summer is around 1400MW or so and so that one wind farm would produce just over 7% of national demand.

We can look at it another way and say by saying Dinson Iron and Steel Company’s 100MW demand will not need to be met by the national grid. So, national demand could be considered to be 1300MW if the wind farm is successfully built.

A new substation and a 30-kilometre transmission line will be needed to connect the wind farm to the national grid. That, in addition to the wind farm itself, will be a significant investment, so it is good to see this application.

The wind farm will generate 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This is a significant contribution to the country’s electricity supply, which is currently around 1400 MW in the summer. Looked at another way…

The wind farm would reduce the national electricity demand by 100 MW, as the Dinson Iron and Steel Company will no longer need to draw electricity from the grid. This would free up capacity on the grid for other users.

Overall, the wind farm is a positive development for the country’s electricity supply. It will provide a reliable source of renewable energy and help to reduce the country’s reliance on ZESA and Hwange’s dirty coal.

100MW coal-fired plant

Manhize Resources wants to construct, own, operate and maintain a 100MW coal-fired thermal plant in Manhize, Mvuma. The electricity generated will be for own consumption at Dinson Iron and Steel Plant.

That’s Dinson mentioned again. How much power can one organisation need? Well, that’s the price of increased productivity. Hence why the cry is that our electricity woes are worsening the economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Dinson is the new kid on the block, the Chinese answer to the once mighty ZiscoSteel. Dinson plans to produce 20 million tonnes of carbon steel annually by the year 2030. They are building a US$1.5 billion plant in Mvuma.

It is good to see that Dinson will not be burdening an already struggling national grid. It appears they are constructing their own 100MW plant and procuring 100MW from the wind farm above. They may still produce any abalance from the national grid but this 200MW is mucho appreciado.

So, that means electricity demand is set to grow by whatever Dinson will need. However, we have new power producers to meet some of that demand. You love to see it.

If ZiscoSteel were a bastion of excellence I would have concerns about this Chinese-owned plant but as it stands, I welcome it with three arms.

3.5MW solar plant

After looking at 100MW projects, 3.5MW feels like child’s play. It is not. In Zimbabwe where homes don’t have air conditioners, that could power over 3000 homes.

Distributed Power Africa wants to construct, own, operate and maintain a 3.5MW solar photovoltaic plant in Harare. The electricity generated will be sold to Varun Beverages.

Retail electric suppliers

These are companies that want to take on some of the duties ZESA had. They want to source and supply electricity and I couldn’t be happier to see them apply for licences.

ZimGreenCo Power Services and Intensive Energy User Solutions applied for electricity retail supply licences. These licences would authorise them to purchase, sell, and trade electricity in order to supply their customers.

ZimGreenCo intends to purchase power from various sources including independent power producers and sell to its customers.

Intensive Energy User Solutions is a special purpose vehicle for energy users that require stable, predictable, reliable and uninterrupted base load energy supply. This includes mining and industrial consumers.

From paper to reality

Bringing an idea to reality is a challenging process. It is possible that none of the proposed projects will be successful. However, I am optimistic that at least one of them will succeed.

We talked about what the government is doing to make sure projects like these succeed. You can find out more about that here: Zim could meet 50% of electricity demand using solar by 2025, says govt. From which projects?

That’s more eggs off the ZESA basket. Does this mean we are seeing the ZESA monopoly crumble before our very eyes? In a way, yes. With every IPP licensed, the ZESA monopoly loses a tooth.

We are on the right road now. Above you see a wind farm, a coal-powered thermal plant and a solar plant. That’s 3 different energy sources right there. And that’s 3 different organisations generating electricity.

We need to see more of this. Imagine a Zimbabwe where ZESA is free to export and earn valuable forex because independent power producers satisfy local demand. A man can dream.

Also read:

Zimbabwe’s unreliable electricity supply makes it the biggest adopter of solar systems in Africa

Cybercriminals hack ZESA and have control of critical systems and terabytes of sensitive data?



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  1. farai ted mandoreba

    First…your video ads must not be at auto play… they should be clicked to play ….

    This is a positive step…. this should have bèen considered a long time ago…Good now they have considered it now…

    On the other issue look at Maxwell Chikumbutso … his ideas should be considered but as far as i know to discover something, or to be innovative here in Zimbabwe its a crime
    But as nation we dont go anywhere without innovation and new ideas there must be room for innovation and new ideas not CENTRALISM

    1. Blue💙

      Maxwell is a serial liar. If he killed for every lie he made in public he would make Ted Bundy numbers look like child’s play.

      1. Kuku

        Bringing up Ted Bundy is a bit inappropriate. The man was pure evil.

    2. Kuku

      I’m lost. Who is Maxwell Chikumbutso? And what does he do?

    3. Mabhena

      You probably mean well but Maxwell’s bogus inventions won’t fix anything. He avoids people with relevant knowledge at all cost while courting journalists and laymen like yourself. Last time I checked he had the HIT chancellor or vice-chancellor as a board member on his company website. Techzim you can do a bit of journalism and check if that’s true and if so, see if the learned gentleman can vouch for these perpetual motion mations. You can use the wayback machine. Should make for an entertaining read.

      1. Mabhena


  2. Kuku

    I think competition in the energy industry in Zimbabwe is a good thing. The new companies in the industry should focus on producing renewable energy like solar and wind power.

  3. Robert Mugabe

    Windfarm in Zimbabwe really, will that work with the kind of climate in this country. Ever wondered why most windfarms in developed countries are put at sea. tongai tione

    1. Citizen

      Obviously tests where done to determine the amount of wind needed

      1. Robert Mugabe

        I know you don’g believe that right. what happened to the Gwanda Solar project. we tired of such fairytales.

  4. R.Ncube

    It is never late, we should let more players in power production so as to generate more and reduce power tariffs, thumbs up to the idea.

  5. Fresh Air Fan

    All I can say is I hope they don’t ‘manage’ the independent sector the same way they ‘managed’ our ‘protected’ wetlands.

  6. Captain Jack Sparrow

    Zimbabwe is one of the countries bubbling with many innovative ideas alas everything comes to naught kkkkk Hapana kana chinobuda other than the normal of Chinese looting our resources kkkkk Cry Beloved Zimbabwe

  7. Electrofuse

    No, ZESA monopoly won’t be over. These are independent companies creating their own source of power for business continuity without disruption from ZESA load shedding. Unless there’s another company that’s planning to generate electricity for the general public and directly compete with ZESA, then yes the monopoly would be over. Thanks for the insights though about what’s happening in the local market regarding power generation.

  8. The Empress

    Today is the lord’s day and I really don’t want to spoil your beautiful dream but…

  9. Cyber-Net

    Well…..the nation is desperately in need of more energy suppliers
    Honestly speaking we can never develop our country even our economy will not stabilize without constant reliable energy
    Thats what industrialization was all about and thats what enabled economic and technological advancements

  10. The Empress

    Today is a Monday and Mondays for me anyways are depressing so let’s cry together…

    Did you notice that all those companies building their own electricity supply are mainly building just enough to ensure a consistent supply electricity for their own needs with almost nothing allocated towards the national grid? That’s where the problem lies.

    ZESA supplies electricity to the whole country. But the way they sell that electricity is on a sliding scale with the big consumers paying full market price (if not more) right down to the household consumption that gets a little bit of a subsidy.

    It’s a simple system. So what happens when some of the highest paying and biggest consumers of electricity set up their own supply of electricity and remove themselves from the grid? Obviously a serious imbalance will occur.

    For anybody paying attention at ZESA this is a nightmare. On one hand the strain on the grid is reduced but on the other hand they are going to be making less money.
    Most of the quality customer’s have left nd you’re left with the worst one’s who cry and complain about the cost of electricity even though they are not paying full price.
    And the government is busy saddling ZESA with overpriced new power stations whose cost has to be paid off by the electricity that they will produce,whilst at the same time urging ZESA to expand the grid to rural areas adding on more low paying customers.
    As well as those 3 life expired power stations that are still on the books that the government refuses to sell or close down.

    The only proper solution for ZESA in the is to raise prices nd make everyone pay full market price but I don’t think government will allow that.
    Which will cause another problem.

    It’s hard to attract private investment into the market when they have no chance of making a profit. So that private investment money will then go to the remaining big consumers and offer custom made solutions sort of what’s happening at Varun.

    So yah it’s great that companies have found a way out for themselves but the rest of us are screwed.

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  12. jack

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  13. david

    Great article… Thanks

  14. adma

    Thanks for the nice blog.

  15. happy

    Thank you for such an amazing discussion.

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