(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe has ramped up power cuts across the country as water levels at the world’s largest man-made reservoir plunged due to a an El Niño induced drought, reducing the amount available for electricity generation.

The southern African, which is in winter, increased rotational blackouts from about two hours to as much as 10 hours on Monday, forcing businesses to resort to generators and solar power to run their operations. 

“The stored capacity at Kariba is 1,050 megawatts and we are only able to produce 214 megawatts on average because of the water rationing which has resulted out of low inflows in the lake,” Energy Minister Edgar Moyo told lawmakers, according to a transcript posted on parliament’s website on Monday. The artificial lake had 12.46% of usable storage on June 24 compared with 31.3% a year earlier, according to data available on the Zambezi River Authority’s website.

“On that perspective, after losing over 800 megawatts, it makes it very difficult to sufficiently supply power in the country,” Moyo said. 

Sign up here for the twice-weekly Next Africa newsletter

Demand for power was estimated at 2,200 megawatts while supply stood at 1,206 megawatts, with the bulk coming from its thermal-fired power station in Hwange, according to data posted on the Zimbabwe Power Company’s website. Neighboring, Zambia, which also relies on Lake Kariba for power and is experiencing its worst drought in nearly 60 years increased outages to 12 hours daily in May. 

It’s also cut back on electricity exports from 520 megawatts in February to 281 megawatts in June, according to its power utility.

Zesco Ltd. said it is “experiencing significant difficulties” to balance the available power supply with demand due to the adverse El Niño effects. “This has drastically suppressed hydro power generation at its major power stations,” the utility said in a statement.

You can follow Bloomberg’s reporting on Africa on WhatsApp. Sign up here.

--With assistance from Taonga Mitimingi.

(Updates with Zambia reducing power exports from penultimate paragraph)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.