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Electricity in Zimbabwe in 2021

Global Ranking: #96
45.1% #70 Low-carbon electricity
69.88 watts #165 Generation / person
396.88 gCO2eq/kWh #91 Carbon Intensity
17.9% net imports Electricity imports

Zimbabwe's electricity consumption per person for the year 2021 was significantly lower than the global average, at around 70 watts per person in comparison to 412 watts. Respectively, the consumption from low-carbon sources stood at around 32 watts per person. Much of this was accounted for by hydropower, which reached close to 29 watts/person. The contribution from fossil sources cannot be overlooked, as it came close to 26 watts per person, dominantly from coal. Other sources such as biofuels and solar recorded minimal contribution, at roughly 3 watts and less than 1 watt per person respectively. This level of low electricity generation could have significant impact on the country’s economic development and quality of life, leading to inadequate access to electric services. One other important point to note is that almost a fifth of the electricity consumed in Zimbabwe is accounted for by net imports.


Considering the above data, there are several strategies Zimbabwe could look into to increase low-carbon electricity generation. Inspired by countries with similar conditions, diversifying low-carbon energy sources could be a key approach. By observing the success of nuclear energy generation in countries like Sweden and France, Zimbabwe could consider investment into nuclear energy given the availability of uranium resources in the country. Similarly, wind energy which has shown success in countries like Denmark and Sweden could also be harnessed considering the wind potential on the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. Moreover, Spain and Australia's success with solar power could also provide useful insights, considering Zimbabwe's advantageous geographic position in the tropics with high solar irradiation throughout the year.


Looking at the history of low-carbon electricity in Zimbabwe, it's clear there have been continuous fluctuations in generation over the past four decades, dominated by hydropower. In the early 1980s, there was a slight decrease in hydropower generation, which continued into the late 80s. The 1990s saw an initial increase, followed by inconsistency with periods of both growth and decline. The 2000s started promisingly with a sustained increase in hydropower production until the mid-2000s, followed by a period of variability until the end of the decade. The pattern repeating itself in the 2010s, with a major setback in 2016 where hydropower generation fell significantly by 2 TWh. Despite these fluctuations, there were periods of rebound as seen in 2017 and 2018 with an increase of around 1 TWh each year. Yet, the end of the decade witnessed another decline, signaling the need for urgent action and diversification of clean energy sources to ensure reliable electricity provision.

Data Sources

For the years 1980 to 1989 the data sources are EIA and IEA (imports/exports).
For the years 1990 to 1999 the data source is IEA.
For the years 2000 to 2005 the data source is Ember.
For the years 2006 to 2010 the data source is IEA.
For the years 2011 to 2021 the data source is Ember.