According to our sources, the second stage of the Hirgigo thermal power plant in Eritrea, which will increase output from 88 MW to 132 MW thanks to the Shanghai Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technological Cooperation (SCFETC), is expected to be completed early in the new year. SCFETC , which has orders worth $340 million on its books in Eritrea, has every interest in completing construction of the plant as quickly as possible, if only to supply power to its own gold mine at Zara which it bought in 2012 from Australia’s Chalice Gold Mines Ltd.
But the extension will also benefit inhabitants of Asmara who endure multiple power cuts by the Eritrea Electricity Authority (EAA). There are many reasons for the shortfall in supply. On one hand, current output at Hirgigo, the biggest plant in the country, and that of Belaza (17 MW) account for 90% of all supply in Eritrea and lose 18% of the power they generate.
Then come mandatory halts for maintenance which reduce available capacity by half. By comparison, well-maintained systems can guarantee a regular supply of about 85% of optimum capacity.
But Asmara’s electricity headache has also been worsened in recent months by a rise in demand from the Massawa Cement Factory which exports part of its output to Qatar for the construction of stadiums for the World Cup football championship in 2022.