BY FIDELITY MHLANGA IN SUNCITY, SOUTH AFRICA
Zesa might stop power generation at the from Kariba Dam due to falling levels, a development that will worsen the country’s electricity shortages, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has warned.
Chasi told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe winter school in South Africa on Friday that urgent solutions to the power crisis were needed to save businesses.
“Kariba is slightly above 20,5%,” he said. “We may shut down in November 2019.
“You should be worried as accountants. This has that impact on the continuity of our business.”
Chasi said Zimbabwe’s business sector was losing $200 million a month in revenue due to the electricity crisis.
According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), the Kariba hydropower station was on Friday generating only 391 megawatts (MW) of electricity against its
installed capacity of 1 050MW.
The Harare, Hwange and Munyati thermal power stations were producing a combined 432MW while the Bulawayo station was down.
Peak demand for electricity in Zimbabwe is pegged at 2 200MW.
In May, the Zambezi River Authority drastically reduced water allocations to Zimbabwean and Zambian utilities for power generation as water levels dropped.
Chasi said as a stop-gap measure, he was negotiating with Mozambique’s power utility HCB to increase electricity imports from the current 50 MW to 150MW.
Zimbabwe is already importing 300MW from South Africa’s Eskom with plans to increase the supplies to 400MW.
“We are getting 50MW from Mozambique and I am in discussions with them right now (for increased supplies),” Chasi added.
“We have paid US$10 million to them out of (a debt of) US$42 million. We will be visiting them soon and I am cautiously optimistic that I will get some (more electricity.”
“I am looking to getting 150MW and even more than that.”
The minister said there was need to improve efficiencies at Zesa and limit electricity consumption by government departments.
“For now we have to work on the inefficiencies. Right now I am talking about theft of power,” he said.
“That’s why we are arresting and suing these people so that they pay.
“We also have these thefts of transformers. We have many things to work on to gravitate to the issue of tariffs.
“All government departments, we are going to put them on prepaid meters. I said government must pay debts. That was 2% of total debt and they are paying.”
Zesa is owed $1,2 billion by consumers who consist mainly of government departments, parastatals, local authorities and commercial farmers.
Last month government increased electricity tariffs by more than 200% to match inflation.