Minister Fortune Chasi

PHILLIMON MHLANGA

ENERGY Minister Fortune Chasi has directed the country’s
power utility to provide more than 400MW of uninterrupted power supplies to the
productive sector as the economy slides into recession, Business Times has
established.

Zimbabwe’s economy is expected to contract by up to 6.5% this year due to lower than expected output of the mining industry and the effects of the ravaging drought. 

The development comes at a time when industries have been facing gruelling power cuts that lasts for 18 hours. This has forced companies to invest in alternative sources of energy thereby pushing up the cost of production, making local products uncompetitive. 

Peace Rugube, a ZESA board member and deputy director for
power in the Ministry of Power and Energy Development, spoke on behalf of Chasi
at the recent general managers meeting held in the capital that the guaranteed
power supplies will help industry. 

“[The minister] has directed that the productive sector has
to be given guaranteed power supplies of 400MW for them to continue to
meaningfullycontribute toward national development,” Rugube said.

“The Minister said that the recent tariff hike to ZWL$1.6216
per kilowatt hour (kWhr) demonstrates the government’s commitment to support
ZESA operations and it is imperative to collect the revenue to be in a position
to meaningfully contribute to the vision of the government and effectively
interface with customers.” 

Zimbabwe’s power woes are attributed to a significant
reduction of power generation from the country’s anchor power station, the
Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station, due to dwindling water levels in the
Kariba Dam. As such, the country has turned to electricity imports from South
Africa and Mozambique.

Zimbabwe now mainly relies on imports from Mozambique and
South Africa from Cahora Basa and Eskom respectively, but due to foreign
currencyshortages regional power utilities have not been giving meaningful
importsgiven the huge debt ZESA still owes them. Zimbabwe has the potential to
generate close to 2000MW but the country is producing less than 1000MW due to
the low water levels in Kariba and antiquated machinery at Hwange and other
thermal stations.

Currently Kariba South, which has a capacity of 1050MW, is
allowed to generate less than 300MW due to the same problem of low water
levels. The water levels are so low that Kariba can no longer supply Zimbabwe
with adequate power supply.

If the water levels reach 475 metres, Kariba will close
for a while and wait for rains in the upper reaches of the Zambezi river in
Angola and south-west Zambia. Three other small thermal generators (which
average 120MW each), namely Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare, are occasionally
utilised due to old age.

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