Transformer project poised to end Zimbabwe's power outages
By CAJ News | 26 Mar 2020 at 20:50hrs
A PROJECT by the country's top technology institute is to save Zimbabwe scarce foreign currency used on power imports as well as halt incessant power challenges.
The Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) is manufacturing the transformers, with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings set to be the major beneficiary.
The struggling state-owned enterprise imports transformers from Europe.
With its well documented financial and foreign currency struggles, the power utility has been unable to replace old or stolen equipment, leading to serious challenges in the supply of electricity.
This has curtailed activities in industry while most retailers have opted for generators, which is another costly option since the price of fuel, also sporadically scarce, is rising.
It is pegged at between US$1,15 and $1,20.
HIT, the leading institute of innovation, has intervened and has already started a project to manufacture transformers, to meet local demand.
They mostly cost around $8 500 for 315KVA, depending on size.
"We have already developed the transformers and that is now known across the world," said Eng. Talon Garikayi, who is Harare Iinstitute of Technology (HIT)'s Technology Transfer, Licensing and Commercialisation Centre (TTLC) director.
"We are targeting a cross-section of clients, from ZESA to mobile phone operators and any other interested clients. We have supplied to areas like Bindura, Manicaland, Sunway City and Stone Ridge," Garikayi added.
HIT has supplied 15 of the transformers to a mobile phone operator, he disclosed.
ZESA claims to have lost 2 200 transformers by September 2019. It needs $100 million to replace them.
If ZESA strikes a deal with HIT for the supply of transformers, its bill could come down to a reasonable and more affordable $18,7 million.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa blamed the theft of the transformers and cables to ZESA employees.
Energy Minister, Fortune Chasi, last year told the media government was working on plans to install industrial grade drone monitors for surveillance.
The power utility was last year forced to remove 1 000 metres of cables that connect Bulawayo and the border town of Plumtree-the gateway into Botswana.
Zimbabwe is facing serious power challenges with rolling power cuts lasting up to 12 hours a day.
Low water levels in Kariba Dam, decaying infrastructure and vandalism exacerbate the crisis.
The global coronavirus crisis has been the latest blow.
It has halted the refurbishment of the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
A Chinese company is working on the project and most of the implements come from the Asian country, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.