East African

Relief as water levels in Kariba Dam rise


KITSEPILE NYATHI

By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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Rising water levels at the Kariba Dam in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi river basin between Zambia and Zimbabwe is welcome news as it is Zimbabwe’s main source of hydropower. Angola, one of the Zambezi River’s biggest catchment areas, has recorded heavy downpour.

Zimbabwe is facing one of the worst droughts in almost 40 years, which has also affected tourism at the Victoria Falls, which was almost dry.

Zimbabwe and Zambia rely on Kariba, the world’s biggest man-made reservoir for most of their electricity supply, but were last year forced to cut back power generation from the dam as water levels fell drastically.

Last May, Zimbabwe was forced to introduce 18-hour daily power cuts and struggled to import electricity from neighbouring countries to plug the shortfall.

At the end of March, the flows on the Zambezi River recorded in Victoria Falls were 54 per cent above the long-term average and way higher than last year’s flows during the same period. But even with more water, the Zimbabwe River Authority said it would limit Zimbabwe and Zambia’s electricity generating capacity to 275MW each for now.

Zimbabwe has installed electricity generating capacity of 1,050MW in Kariba. Power cuts hit the country’s struggling economy hard as companies lost production time while others had to invest in alternative sources of fuel.

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Besides Kariba Dam, the country also has four thermal power stations but their generation capacity has been depleted over the years due to lack of maintenance.

Kariba Dam is jointly owned by Zambia and Zimbabwe.



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