Electricity in Zimbabwe

Electricity in Zimbabwe
Electricity in Zimbabwe
Details of the five power plants owned by ZPC, and their availability levels - are shown in Figure 3. All these plants are now old. The Kariba (South) hydropower plant, built between 1959 and 1962, is the most reliable on the system, with a nominal capacity of 750MW, all of which was available in 2012. The remaining four plants are all coal-fired thermal plants burning coal produced in Zimbabwe. The most important of these is the 920MW Hwange plant, which was built between 1983 and 1987. Age and lack of maintenance has made this plant consistently unreliable over the past decade, and most recent annual availability was only 357MW. The remaining three thermal plants, Munyati, Bulawayo and Harare, are all over fifty years old, having been commissioned between 1942 and 1957.
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Zimbabwe lies in the heart of Southern Africa, and of the Southern African Power Pool - of which it is a member. The country has significant energy resources, and has in the past supported a strong economy, based on commercial farming and mining. However, the government of Robert Mugabe has, over the past twenty years, left a large part of the economy in ruins, and the country with few economic allies. The electricity infrastructure is old, and cannot come near to meeting actual demand, so load shedding is frequent to maintain system stability. The main electricity sector companies are also heavily in debt, and require government support, partly as a result of an inability to collect debts from consumers. The country imports power from its neighbours, but the inability to pay for imports, coupled with a tighter supply in the SAPP region, has made access to power from other countries more difficult. Without renewal at government level, and transparent management of the economy and other affairs, Zimbabwe will struggle to attract the investment it needs to rebuild the infrastructure and allow the economy to flourish.

This report is a Country Profile, covering
  • Power generation capacity by fuel input
  • Electricity networks
  • Current power market trends
  • Generation growth
  • Investment opportunities
  • Future project plans


  • An overview of the electricity market in Zimbabwe.
  • Power supply data covering production, imports and exports and the main production sources.
  • Power demand data by market sector and tariff data.
  • An overview of the structure of the electricity sector with government and private sector companies as well as the regulatory status.
  • Power demand forecasts and the development of the power sector to meet expected growth.
  • Transmission system expansion plans.

Key Findings of the Report

  • The only significant fossil fuel resource available in Zimbabwe today is coal. The country has reserves of 502m tonnes according to BP.
  • With no oil reserves, and no refinery capacity, all of Zimbabwe’s refined petroleum products must be imported. Annual consumption is 19,030bbl/d.
  • There is major hydropower potential in Zimbabwe. The World Energy Council puts gross theoretical potential energy output at 44TWh/y, and the technically exploitable capacity at 18TWh/y.
  • The transmission system in Zimbabwe is based on a backbone of 420kV (161km), 330kV (3,232km) and 220kV (126km) lines that bring power from the two large power plants at Hwange in the west, and Kariba in the northwest - to the main load centres.
  • There have been increases in tariffs since 2010, when the average national tariff was US$0.075/kWh, but even the highest tariff in 2013 is well below what the AFDB estimated to be the cost recovery tariff in 2010 of US$0.116/kWh.

Key Questions Answered

  • How does Zimbabwe generate its electricity?
  • What is the status of the national electricity market?
  • What are the key developments in electricity infrastructure?
  • Who are the key players in market?
  • What are the future prospects for investment in Zimbabwe?

Date Published / Pages / Format

February, 2014 / 29 pages / PDF