Fifty-five (55) Zimbabwean Members of Parliament (MPs) descended on Kariba weeks ago to get a correct picture of the water situation in Lake Kariba as regards electricity generation. This is how important Kariba is to this country (and Zambia, too) that MPs have to come down and assess for themselves how serious the water level problem is and plan accordingly for national power needs. The national daily, The Herald, quotes the Kariba South Power Station General Manager, Kenneth Maswera, as having told the MPs and the media that at current production levels, averaging 475MW, the water levels will take us to February 2016 even without a drop of rain. This, of course, is a hypothetical situation. The reality is that it would have rained by then. “Assuming there is no drop of rain (around Kariba Dam catchment area), the current water levels can last until February”, Maswera is quoted as having said. Read the full story here: www.herald.co.zw/kariba-water-levels-can-last-till-february/.
This confirms my report in the last issue that news headlines that “Water Levels in Kariba Dam have dropped alarmingly” are alarmist and a failure to interpret data provided by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), managers of the reservoir. Let me repeat that portion for the benefit of those who missed it – “At current usage, the lake level will be around 477.41m by Christmas, which is 1.44m
above the mean operating level. Normal increase from local rainfall averages about 1m rise even before the Zambezi River flow takes effect. As you read this, Kariba is received its first meaningful rains.” I added that “Twice I have seen the lake level drop to within 50cm of mean operating level. We are far from getting there. Let’s not worsen a bad situation – Kariba will thrive, especially if ZESCO (Zambia) and ZPC (Zimbabwe) follow the water allocation limits set by the ZRA.” This has been confirmed as true and the truth is what both the reading public and planners, such as MPs, need to plan ahead.
Of further interest was another article carried by The Herald newspaper looking at how the government plans to address the issue of power outages. Click on this link to read the full story: www.herald.co.zw/govt-seeks-to-solve-power-outages/
All this is well and fine as long as we have alternative plans in place should things not go as expected. As Takura Zhangazha rightly put it in an opinion piece, it would be foolhardy to wait for the rains without a back-up plan. Read his article here: www.herald.co.zw/waiting-for-rain-minus-an-urgent-action-plan/. Forward planning is everything.
By Laiton Kandawire