Generators kick out as Zambia looks for upgrade

ZAMBIA - Zambia, Africa's largest producer of copper, has suffered chronic power shortages and breakdowns over the past few decades. In the last days of April, it was reported that the country's National Tender Board was finalizing plans to offer an international tender for the development of the Kafue Gorge hydropower station.

A day later, it was announced that two generators had collapsed at the power station, putting further pressure on the load-shedding program that the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) is already implementing.

A company spokesperson said that the generators would be up again in two days and that power imports from the Democratic Republic of Congo had not been received for days because of transmission faults, causing the to machines to kick out.

Maintenance on the other two generators at Kafue had been carried out 10 days previously.

The new tender is aimed at improving capacity and generating efficiency in the country, which has the capacity to produce 1,600 megawatts (MW) but only produces 1,000 MW because of the lack of investment in the maintenance and optimization of the plant. Kafue has the potential to output 750 MW, and it is estimated that $1 billion investment is required to develop the plant to that level and assist in the increase of power to the country's copper mines that are forecast to produce a possible 1 million tons of copper by 2010.

Some mines are reported have offered six future investments in the development project.

Zesco and Tata Africa Holdings of South Africa (Mumbai/Johannesburg) have issued an international tender for a $230 million power station. The partners have formed Itezhi-Tezhi Power Corporation (ITPC) to manage the construction of the 120 MW project, which is scheduled to be commissioned in June 2012. Bids are invited for the design, supply, construction and commissioning of the project.

Road, housing and water and sanitation contracts will be scheduled for completion by March 2009. ITPC will seek loans from financial institutions to meet part of the costs.

A national output of 2,500 MW will be needed by 2013 to cope with the requirements of the growing mining industry. Zesco is in negotiation with Japanese, Indian and international financial institution to raise $600 million for system upgrades and the ITPC development.


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