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A Zimbabwean family plays cards in Harare by candlelight after a power cut/AFP

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Fault shuts down key Zimbabwe power plant

A Zimbabwean family plays cards in Harare by candlelight after a power cut/AFP

A Zimbabwean family plays cards in Harare by candlelight after a power cut/AFP

HARARE, Feb 27 – A fault has shut down one of Zimbabwe’s biggest power stations, prompting the struggling national power utility on Thursday to warn of more blackouts.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) said Hwange power station, in the northwest of the country, had halted production.

The thermal station generates 500-600 megawatts of electricity each day, just under half of the country’s total.

The plant failed “owing to a fault that caused a transformer malfunction at the station,” authorities said.

Zimbabwe is already battling intermittent power supply with many households relying on diesel powered generators for lights.

Large businesses are not spared, further crippling the much needed economic growth.

Zimbabwe generates on average 1,200 megawatts of electricity per day against a peak demand of 2,200 megawatts.

On Thursday official statistics showed just 838 megawatts of production, with one station Kariba, providing around 90 percent of the total.

Faults affecting ageing equipment at major plants are common.

Last year the country signed a $355 million agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China to expand power generation.

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Officials said the funds will be used to increase the northern Kariba South Hydro-power station’s capacity by 300 megawatts.

In 2012, Patson Mbiriri, secretary for energy and power development, told a conference that it would take up ten years to resolve the country’s energy problems.

He estimated that the country will be able to generate enough power for domestic and industrial power by 2022.

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