An emergency power infrastructure rehabilitation project has reached the last leg of implementation with the delivery of a 175 MVA transformer, signalling relief from constant power outages for thousands of customers in the Midlands, Mashonaland East and West provinces of Zimbabwe.
Phase II of the ZimFund Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (EPIRP II) received $22.74-million in funding from the ZimFund, in which development finance institution the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is a major partner.
The new transformer will replace old equipment which is beyond repair and caused numerous power interruptions that have impacted negatively on households, industry, human capital institutions and essential basic service delivery.
The transformer was delivered to the Sherwood substation in Kwekwe Midlands province, about 200 km west of Harare, on July 10.
Customers fed by the Sherwood substation are spread over Midlands, Mashonaland East and West and Masvingo provinces. The substation, which serves more than 1.2-million people, is equipped with three 90 MVA, resulting in a total substation installed capacity of 270 MVA against demand of 350 MVA.
The additional 175 MVA transformer will increase the substation’s capacity to 445 MVA.
The AfDB-managed EPIRP Phase II was designed to improve the availability of electricity supply through rehabilitation of generation, transmission and distribution facilities. The project target areas were Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Mutare, Harare and Hwange, with a combined target population of five-million people.
Engineering professional services consulting firms WSP Power MD Dinesh Buldoo, representing the government of Zimbabwe, said the delivery of the transformer was “a key milestone since it is the largest key equipment included in the project scope”.
“The project faced delays exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on the production and shipping lines. We would like to thank the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC) and the people of Zimbabwe for their patience throughout this project,” he said.
ZETDC network development engineer Edson Manyewe said the delivery of the transformer would result “in improved reliability of supplies, efficient operation of the network as well as improved quality of supplies”.
ZimFund has been one of the most instrumental programmes in the country in terms of restoring Zimbabwe’s critical infrastructure for power, water supply and sanitation especially in the targeted areas.
By the end of the first phase of the power project in 2016, more than 529 768 people in residential areas had their sewage reticulation serviced by reliable power, 11 632 others were restored to the electricity network and 11 097 people were added to the network, the AfDB said.
The $145.8-million fund’s donors include Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
Most of the substations rehabilitated under the ZimFund power project supply power to critical institutions, such as hospitals, schools and universities, water and sewage treatment plants, mines and other public facilities.
Under its energy sector, the AfDB is also financing other infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe, such as the Kariba Dam rehabilitation project, the Alaska-Karoi transmission line and energy sector reform support projects with a total investment of $90.5-million.