/ 17 May 2008

Mozambique to boost Cahora Bassa power output

Mozambique’s power utility Cahora Bassa Hydro Electric (HCB) plans to boost power output from the Cahora Bassa Dam by up to 1 000 megawatts in order to meet local and regional power demands.

A study to be commissioned in the next three months will seek to evaluate the dam’s potential to increase output, said HCB CEO Paulo Muxanga on Saturday.

”We expect to increase the output of the dam by between 870MW and 1 100MW and this will depend on the outcome of the study, which is expected to begin in the next three months, ” said Muxanga.

He said the increased output could service the local market as well as Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations facing power shortages.

”Initially the expansion is expected to benefit Mozambique first, but we cannot forget South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana who have approached us seeking more power supply from the dam,” he said.

HCB currently generates 2 075MW short of its potential of 14 000MW and its full operation could provide a solution to the power crisis in the SADC region.

The power utility supplies South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana whose local production does not meet consumption demands.

Talks to supply power generated from the dam to Tanzania and Zambia are also at an advanced stage, said Muxanga.

Since January this year, regional powerhouse South Africa has been battling with its worst power crisis in 20 years and has resorted to imposing load-shedding programmes that have affected industrial production.

The African Development Bank revealed in its 2007 annual report released this week that it had approved a $500-million loan to Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, for an expansion programme.

Eskom intends to source 15% of its power from neighbouring countries through the construction of transnational high-voltage transmission lines, said the bank. — Sapa