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Zambia Country to add 420 MW to its electricity grid in 2016

"The idea is to have a good energy mix because we cannot just rely on hydropower, especially with the current drought," Chisanga said.

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Pylons carry electricity from South African power utility Eskom's Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, in this picture taken November 28, 2015. play Pylons carry electricity from South African power utility Eskom's Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, in this picture taken November 28, 2015. (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings)

Zambia will add 420 megawatts (MW) to its electricity grid this year due to new generation projects, almost halving the national deficit, the head of its investment agency said on Tuesday.

Zambia's power shortfall has risen to 1,000 MW from 700 MW in November due to lower hydro generation as water levels have dropped because of drought.

Zambia Development Agency Director General Patrick Chisanga said the 420 MW would come from a new 300 MW coal-fired power plant, and a 120 MW hydroelectric one.

The first 60 MW units of the hydroelectric project were commissioned in December last year and rest in February, Chisanga said.

"The 300 MW from the Maamba Collieries Coal fired Power Project will be made available in mid-year 2016," he told Reuters.

Zambia was seeking investors to build additional thermal power plants to general 200 MW and negotiations with the developers would be concluded soon, Chisanga said.

Another 55 MW thermal power plant due to come on stream early next year was under construction, while the government was looking for investors to build solar plants that would add 250 MW to the grid.

"The idea is to have a good energy mix because we cannot just rely on hydropower, especially with the current drought," Chisanga said.

The government was also upgrading several small hydropower stations to ease the electricity shortage, Chisanga said.

Big hydro projects would add 3,000 MW to the grid by 2024, he added.

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