Russians may build power stations in Zimbabwe

Harare - A Russian company will soon begin building small hydro-electric power stations in energy-starved Zimbabwe as part of a $150-million deal due to be signed next month, reports said on Sunday.

Construction of the power stations, to be built at small dams around the country by Russia's Turbo Engineering, is due to begin in January, said the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.

Obert Nyatanga, the manager of Zimbabwean power utility ZESA Holdings was quoted as saying the Russian company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zimbabwean authorities and was due to be awarded a power generation licence.

The paper said the project aimed to produce more than 120 megawatts of power. Zimbabwe currently has a power deficit of more than 700 megawatts.

The Russian firm is to supply and install the equipment, and Zimbabwe's central bank will foot the bill, the Sunday Mail said.

The Russians are coming into this deal following the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's recent visit to that country, Nyatanga was quoted as saying.

Power supply in cash-strapped Zimbabwe, which imports up to 35 percent of its power needs, is expected to worsen next year when regional suppliers like Mozambique and South Africa cut back on exports.

Zimbabwe's dilapidated power stations, unfeasibly low tariffs and shaky transmission networks have worsened the situation here, resulting in long periods of scheduled and unscheduled power cuts.

Last month a Russian business delegation signed MOUs with four Zimbabwean state companies on trade, investment and economic co-operation worth $300-million.

In June, Zimbabwe also signed a power deal with a Chinese company in return for chrome.

Under that deal three thermal power stations as well as coal mines are expected to be developed in the north and west of the country. - Sapa-dpa

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