ZESA has applied to Zambia’s power utility, Zesco, for permission to import an unspecified amount of electricity to feed the Kanyemba area, Mashonaland Central Province, north of Zimbabwe. This comes as the Mbire Rural District Council, under which Kanyemba Rest Camp falls, has made tremendous progress in transforming the predominantly rural tourist resort into a modern centre.
Mbire has applied for Special Economic Zone status for Kanyemba. With huge investment and development expected to flow into Kanyemba, across the sectors and sub-sectors of tourism, agriculture, mining, construction, infrastructure, real estate, hospitality and education, demand for power will grow dramatically. Government is also developing a modern border post to connect, first with Zambia, through a Pontoon serviced in-land port, and later a proper Y-bridge to enable unfettered access to Zambia and Mozambique. This will significantly increase human and vehicular traffic. But the challenge at the moment is that such development may be hindered if critical services such as power are not brought to the area, which promises to generate remarkable economic value for the country, create employment and improve standard of living in the district.
Mbire is set to undergo massive transformation following its separation in 2005 from Guruve to become a standalone rural district council, although it had remained in the shadows of Guruve. Rungano Gapa, an engineer with Zesa, said the utility encountered technical difficulties in drawing power from either Mushumbi Pool, 105 kilometres away or Mvurwi, about 130km from Kanyemba.
“We have sent an application to import power from Zambia. The application is what we are actively pursuing,” Eng Gapa said. The nature of the technical difficulties Zesa has faced to connect Kanyemba to the national electricity grid could not be immediately established. But an option to import depends on Zesa’s counterparts being able to pool power from the mainland to Luangwa, which is near the border with Zimbabwe. It also depends on how much Zambia will be able to supply. The country has recently been facing serious shortage of power.
Zesa has also been battling to mobilise foreign currency to pay for electricity from Eskom of South Africa to augment limited local power production. It has an agreement with Eskom to import up to 300MW. Eng Gapa said once Zambia approved the application for imports and the Rural Electrification Agency put in place the critical infrastructure, Zesa would immediately move to supply the power, which would require it to build a 750KvA to 800KvA transmission line.