HARARE, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government is planning to boost energy production from its abundant mineral resources so that it becomes a net exporter of power by 2024, a government minister said Tuesday.
The cabinet approved the program at its cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
"Cabinet considered and approved the Program for the Development of Energy from Mineral Resources, which was presented by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.
"The Program's major objective is to ensure that Zimbabwe emerges as a net exporter of electricity by 2024 and of fuel by 2030," information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at a post-cabinet media briefing.
Zimbabwe has been facing power shortages for years now due to various reasons, among them ageing equipment and lack of funds to develop new power plants.
The power shortages have been particularly severe this year after a drought caused water levels in Kariba Dam to sharply decline.
The Dam hosts one of the country's major power plants, the Kariba Hydro Power Station, which was recently expanded by the Chinese to increase its installed capacity to 1,050 megawatts from 750MW.
The sharp decline in power generation has led to rolling power cuts which have affected domestic, industrial and commercial consumers.
Currently, the China's Sinohydro is undertaking the expansion of the coal-fired Hwange Thermal Power Station to increase its generation capacity from 920 MW to 1,520 MW. The project is earmarked for completion in 2021 at a cost of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.
Mutsvangwa said the program to boost power generation will principally be achieved through the extraction of coal-bed methane (CBM) for power generation, production of liquid fuel from coal, generation of electricity from coal, and the development of oil and gas potential in the Muzarabani, Gonarezhou and Manicaland areas.
"To facilitate attainment of the program, some measures will be instituted to, among other things, provide for the separation of the ownership of coal and CBM extraction concessions, as well as incorporation of specific tertiary education programs that promote the development of the energy sector," she said.
She added that a commission will be set up to oversee the formulation of the program for the development of energy from mineral resources.