“South Africa, through Eskom, has been involved in the electricity sector in various countries in Africa for a long time and has utilised different forms of engagement,” Eskom said in response to press reports that South Africa is supplying Zimbabwe with 300 megawatts of power a day in a new “secretive” deal.
Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper reported on Monday that the deal with Eskom to provide immediate power relief to the country broke a long spell in which the country experienced prolonged load-shedding during the final quarter of last year.
The latest Zimbabwean power crisis, which has been attributed to declining water levels in the Kariba Dam, has hit industry, farmers and domestic consumers in Zimbabwe. Some urban residents have gone without electricity for more than 18 hours a day.
The Herald quoted Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Partson Mbiriri as saying the country had struck a deal that “remains secretive for security reasons” with Eskom to secure immediate power relief.
The bulk of the support, he said, was coming during South Africa’s off-peak periods.
Eskom acknowledged that it has signed a power supply agreement with its Zimbabwean counterpart Zesa, but there is no secrecy about this.
Eskom said it is also committed to ongoing participation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
The SAPP is made up of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which are connected through an integrated grid.
Eskom is part of the SAPP, and so is Zesa, where member utilities sell surplus electricity to each other depending on the need.
Eskom also plays a pivotal role in the transmission interconnection that connected Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa in 1995, which opened up a corridor for electricity to flow as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the north and Namibia in the far south-west.
“We are aware that our responsibilities to supply our neighbouring countries may create an apparent conflict when the domestic supply-demand balance is constrained,” Eskom said.
South Africa itself suffered from prolonged load shedding since November 2014 due to poor maintenance of its power generating units. But Eskom said it is progressing well with the maintenance of its power generating plant whilst supplying the country’s electricity needs. Enditem