Zambia, Zimbabwe Brace for Electricity Generation Slowdown Amid Predicted El Nino Impact
Low Water Levels in Kariba Dam to Bring Economic Shocks to Southern Africa
Livingstone, Zambia - As the predicted El Nino weather phenomena looms over Southern Africa, countries in the region are preparing for its potential devastating impact on various sectors, including agriculture, tourism, and hydroelectric power generation, writes Kennedy Phiri.
Zambia and Zimbabwe, neighboring countries that share the 2,010 megawatts Kariba Dam hydro power station, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the drought, which could further strain their post-COVID-19 recovery efforts and exacerbate the recent power load shedding experienced.
Authorities from both countries have confirmed that Lake Kariba Dam is expected to experience lower water levels next year due to the El Nino effects attributed to climate change.
This reduction in water availability will lead to a decreased allocation for power generation by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), further exacerbating the electricity challenges faced by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zambia's Energy Minister, Peter Kapala, and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Edgar Moyo, have acknowledged the situation and attributed the reduced water levels to the El Nino climate pattern.
This year, the two countries were allocated 40 billion cubic meters of water, but this was later reduced to 30 billion cubic meters.
However, it is now anticipated that the allocation will decrease further to 16 billion cubic meters in 2024.
During the Zambezi River Authority's 41st Council of Ministers meeting held in Livingstone, Mr. Moyo urged both countries to prepare for the best and worst-case scenarios of the reduced water allocation resulting from the anticipated drought.
The impact of low water levels and subsequent power rationing will have severe consequences on economic activities, leading to a slowdown in economic growth.
Power rationing, which lasted for up to half of the day in some cases, hampers productivity and exacerbates the challenges faced by industries and households.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently issued alerts regarding the development of an El Nino climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean this year.
There is an 80 percent chance of an El Nino event developing between July and September, which is expected to bring dangerously high temperatures and extreme weather events.
The El Nino event is projected to last for 12 months, further heightening concerns for the affected countries in Southern Africa.
As Zambia and Zimbabwe brace for the impact of reduced water allocations and potential electricity generation slowdown, the governments and relevant authorities are working to mitigate the effects and explore alternative energy sources to ensure resilience in the face of climate-related challenges.