ZESA consulting on deployment of floating solar panels at Kariba, for now, here’s the state of power in the country

Leonard Sengere Avatar

There is no digital economy without electricity. We thought we had turned a leaf but it was only for a few months just before and after the elections. It’s just a coincidence, I’m sure.

So, we know that Unit 7 at Hwange took its 300MW under maintenance. The water levels at Kariba are also low, leading to low power generation. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? What are the authorities saying?

The Minister of Energy, Edgar Moyo, recently gave us a little insight into what’s happening.

Demand v Supply

Peak electricity demand in the country is about 1850MW, yet supply has regularly been below 1300MW. That 550MW deficit is what’s causing us all this grief.

Today, the Zimbabwe Power Company reports the following power generation stats:

  • Hwange – 674MW
  • Kariba – 500MW
  • IPPs – 38MW
  • TOTAL – 1212MW


We talked about Unit 7 undergoing maintenance. It is completely off the grid right now. The Minister says it will be back online in three weeks. So, mark your calendars, it should come back by the 1st of December.

This likely means Unit 8 will have to undergo its own one-month-long maintenance stint. The Minister didn’t say much about Unit 8. However, he did talk about the problem children, Units 1-6.

These units are old and are prone to break down. It appears something is finally being done about this. Said the Minister,

There is need to deploy new technology for units 1 to 6 …

As a result, the government is pushing for the rehabilitation of those units to be sped up, according to The Herald.

In the meantime though, the Minister says we should expect occasional breakdowns.


Kariba should be the main power generation station but water levels have been falling over the years, curtailing its capacity.

ZESA executive chairman reminded us that the installed capacity there is 1050MW but we are running on an average of 300MW. He says we should think of it as ‘we lost 750MW’ for as long as the water situation remains.

The Zambezi River Authority, which is responsible for managing the Kariba waters says,

The Lake level is decreasing, closing the period under review at 477.92m (16.84% usable storage) on 9th November 2023, compared to 476.64m (7.89% usable storage) recorded on the same date last year.

You may recall that around this time last year, the situation was much worse. Then, Kariba had lower water levels and was producing less. On top of it, there was no Unit 7 or 8 at Hwange to talk about.

What we should note though is that the water levels at Kariba are falling by the day. In just the period from 27 October to 9 November, the reservoir went from 18.82% full to 16.84%.

It will only start to rise after a few months of rain. Historical data shows that the earliest it can start rising is in January.

Floating solar panels

Earlier this year we talked about floating solar panels and how we thought they should be deployed at Kariba. You can find out more about what this is all about by clicking this link: Zimbabwe should jump on floating solar panels, would benefit Kariba

I would like to believe, for our ego’s sake, that had something to do with the announcement we got from the ZESA executive chairman,

There are moves now to accelerate alternative technology, principally PV solar and there is a lot of investment waiting in the pipeline

He was talking about a floating solar panel project at Kariba. The Minister then told us that its past the ‘wishful thinking’ stage when he said,

Last week I was in India and we spoke to International Solar Alliance and they are going to send a team next year in January or February so they can assist us in the deployment of that technology.

This is exciting news folks.


You saw the 550MW deficit above. On top of it, we expect occasional breakdowns at Hwange and the water levels and electricity generation to keep falling at Kariba for at least two months.

We are importing some electricity to fill that gap. However, we need to increase our imports and the government says negotiations are underway to do just that.

ZESA owes over $100 million to regional power exporters. So, one wonders how successful they will be in opening new lines of credit.

Zeroing in on that $100 million figure reveals some frustrating truths. It shot up to that much during the run-up to the elections. So, the blissful period we experienced was really anchored on imports.

We all suspected that something was up because early in the year we were in darkness. Then as we got closer to the election date all our problems went away. Well, we simply opened lines of credit with power exporters and the trick was complete.

This is Zimbabwe, my friend. You better get used to shenanigans like these. So, we shall see if those imports come along. Or the floating solar panels. Or the rehabilitation at Hwange. Any promise made by this government should be taken with kilos of salt.

Also read:

UN approves Zimbabwe’s US$45 mil renewable energy programme

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

Zim could meet 50% of electricity demand using solar by 2025, says govt. From which projects?


What’s your take?

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  1. Press X for Doubt

    I still maintain this is an exotic solution. Maybe it’s also the easiest as they can tap into the grid at the source. While they do their wishful thinking and assessments, they should cancel duty on domestic solar installations, batteries included. They should also ensure the grid is ready for solar buyback. All those homes letting excess solar power go to waste during the day! Even if they can’t pay for that power in real money, I’m sure people would still do it for power credits or tax cuts.

  2. D.K.

    Aren’t they trying to walk on water before even having walked on land? If they were serious with solar energy, by now they should have been operating two or more solar farms generating more than 200 megawatts from Gwanda and Munyati.

    1. Gee

      There seems to be no concrete solution in site.. Each house hold needs to ensure power independence to ride this terrible ride

      1. D.K.

        The modern world is about shared services. We are really trying to reverse civilization when we start having houses in cities and built up areas relying on individual solar systems and boreholes for water. If we are going to copy a system, let us copy it in its entirety. Utility providers should have been given the standards to maintain with heads rolling, rather than promotion, when they continuously go below the set standards. One wonders if there is performance appraisal of the top management at all. Whoever is in a position of authority should perform according to requirements, rather than from their life experiences where on who grew up with no electricity thinks they are doing consumers a favour as they get some electricity between haphazard load shedding.

  3. The Empress

    But why though?
    How many solar farms have been built on land compared to floating solar farms? Why not use the tried and tested method of of just building the damn things on land it’s not like we are exactly short of land.

    1. The Empress

      I knew it! I knew something was up when we were getting electricity all day that something was wrong. Turns out we were borrowing like mad.

    2. Anonymous

      You’re right! They aren’t a lot of solar power stations generating electricity in Zimbabwe. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to import electricity from other countries.

  4. Kudzai

    One thing existing in Zimbabwe is called lying. The “authorities” lie a lot and its bad.

  5. Serial liar

    Manga Manga business

  6. W

    I question the ‘surge’ of 100M when in march the herald reported we owed 100m anyway.

    Is this not a carry-on of that debt?

    Any sources author?

  7. Anonymous

    You wrote an article about floating solar panels on 17 March 2023! But ZESA is only doing “consultations” now. 🤣 You more foresight than ZESA.

    Having said that, I’m skeptical about this. How many solar power stations do we have in this country? ZESA should have invested in solar power a LONG TIME ago. We wouldn’t be having these painful power cuts if those guys at ZESA knew what they were doing.

    1. The Empress

      Maybe some people were first doing “consultations” about how much to ask as the cut nd then confirming the number of people in the deal. After all these are very important details that have to be sorted out first before anything else is done

      1. Wanguda

        Obviously! Kudhara it was about negotiating who gets how much. Nowadays it’s about who gets how much equity and who pays for that buy in. The rise of the Oligarchs ..VaRozvi reloaded

  8. Anonymous

    There should be timeframes for technocratic promises made and when these are not met heads must not only roll but somebody ought to get fired.

  9. Anonymous

    I don’t believe we even running above 1000 mw. If unit 7 is down and 1-6 are also been fixed it leaves us with 300mw from unit 8 and 500mw at kariba is only 800mw and privates only about 1100mw plus I added MW. And point of correction kariba is not meant to be our main power supply hence why the levels of kariba remain low specially with climate change more water is been used than what is recieved annually.

  10. Monica

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we were exporting power so some people can get their hands on Forex Either that or most of the power generated is going to Mining companies who are paying Zesa in US$

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