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Power outages disrupt industry – Murerwa

Conrad Dube

THE erratic supply of electricity, owing to Zimbabwe’s limited import capacity attached to the current foreign exchange constraints, has greatly contributed to the disruption of service in

productive sectors, Herbert Murerwa, the country’s stand-in Finance minister has said.


Unveiling the country’s fifth one-year economic blueprint dubbed Zimbabwe: Towards Sustained Economic Growth — Macroeconomic Policy Framework for 2005-2006, Murerwa recently admitted that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)’s mooted actions to bill exporting consumers, mainly businesses, in foreign currency had further dented industries’ production time.


He said this was more applicable to those failing to raise the required funds.

“Given that the capacity to import supplies (of power) is related to foreign exchange availability, it is critical that government measures to improve the competitiveness of exporters be continued,” he said.


Zimbabwe requires an average US$13 million to import 150 megawatts of power at any given time from fellow Southern African Development Community member states, among them the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Mozambique.


The power is needed to augment its internal generating capacity, also hobbled by six-year foreign cash shortages accompanying poor performing exports and a fast depreciating economy.


Murerwa’s sentiments on the effects of incessant power outages on industry also come at a time regional economies are threatened by pending power shortages in a few years to come and which deficit Zesa has attempted to respond to by courting Chinese investors to expand internal generating capacity.


The views also come at a time Zimbabwe has failed to timeously implement the formation of an independent regulatory commission for the energy sector.


Zesa’s executive chairman Sydney Gata recently told this paper that the authority awaits government approval.


The new policy, which the acting Treasury boss said was a response to the apparent lack of broad macro economic framework to underpin recovery, replaces the National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp), launched in 2000.


Murerwa said the policy would curb de-industrialisation through “concentrated” support for various high-growth productive segments and emphasis will be placed on the promotion of value addition as well as innovation.


The latest working document, singling out the agricultural, infrastructural development and investment promotion sectors, is anchored in the implementation of the equally new industrial development strategy (IDS).

Harare feels the underway-conversion of the Zimbabwe Development Bank into a fully-fledged infrastructural development bank — to finance energy, housing and other infrastructural projects — will fulfill the blueprint’s sectoral-growth strategy or objectives.


Economic commentators this week said that the success of the policy depended on government commitment to full implementation of the programme.


They pointed out that government has often implemented its economic policies half-heartedly and this could affect the latest measures as well.


The classic case of half-hearted measures involves the multilateral agency-backed economic structural adjustment programme (Esap), unveiled in 1991, but aborted half way when President Robert Mugabe’s government’s frustration with donors — over bad performing loans and other policy differences — boiled over.

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