The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has upped water allocation to Kariba Dam, with the power plant expected to increase power generation.

At the end of July 2018, the Kariba Reservoir was 85% full, which is 2m below the full operating level and 11m above the minimum operating level. The Zambezi River Authority has therefore, increased the water allocation for power generation.

Accordingly, ZESCO Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will be expected to jointly use approximately 23 billion m3 for the remaining period of the year 2018, bringing the total annual allocation to 45 billion m3 for 2018. This is an increase of 32% from the original 2018 water allocation and is expected to help increase electricity generation at Kariba Dam. With this water allocation, the Lake Kariba level is expected to close 2018 in the order of 7m above the minimum operating level, representing around 58% usable storage for electricity generation.

In 2015 and 2016, the SADC region in general, and the Zambezi River Catchment in particular, received average to below average rainfall due to the El-Nino effect experienced during that time. This resulted in below average inflows into Lake Kariba and the corresponding low end-of-year lake levels of 14% for 2015, 15% for 2016 and 37% for 2017. The low lake levels signified a great reduction in available water for power generation activities at the two power stations.

To mitigate the negative effects of the El-Nino on the water levels recorded at Kariba at that time, ZRA, in consultation with the two power utilities, reduced the allocated water for power generation from 40.5 billion m3 in 2015 to strictly 20 and 30 billion m3 for the two years 2016 and 2017, respectively.

ZRA will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the sustained availability of water for power generation at Kariba Dam.