Harare – Minister of Energy and Power Development, Fortune Chasi has said that the power situation in the country is dire and has called for a collective stakeholder participation to ensure that the crisis is averted.
Speaking at an event hosted by Alpha Media Holdings in conjuction with the ministry of Industry and Commerce dubbed “State of the Industry Update,” Minister Chasi called upon all stakeholders to pay debts owed to the country’s power utility ZESA whilst hinting at a review in power tariffs.
“The electricity situation has graduated from being a challenge to a very-very big problem,” Minister Chasi said.
He said Kariba dam which houses the country’s largest hydropower source is only at 24% capacity hinting that the ongoing power cuts are likely going to continue for the longest possible time.
Zimbabwe currently owes huge amounts of debt to neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique over electricity imports which has hampered on negotiations to strike an improved electricity import deal from the two countries whose contribution to Zimbabwe’s energy grid over the years has helped alleviate production gap in the domestic space.
On the local front ZESA is owed a huge amount to the tune of $1.2 billion dollars among them various government ministries, corporates and individuals.
In his report, Minister Chasi said domestic sector owes $257 million to ZESA, Mining $64 million, Industry $94 million, Farming $143 million among many others.
City of Harare owes $145 million, Bulawayo $112 million, Kariba $4 million and Mutare owing $2.4 million.
Minister Chasi said if a payment plan is not met the power utility will be left with no other option but to switch off electricity supply to the concerned individuals and entities.
On the tariff side, the minister said a tariff review will be conducted within the shortest period of time in line with the general macro-economic trends.
“The tariff is a problem, we can’t be importing at a huge cost and give it away at a zero point costs,” he said.
“We are going to review this. We need tariffs that reflect the cost of producing power,” he added.
The acute shortage of power has come at a time government is trying to market Zimbabwe as a conducive investment destination throwing the efforts into a brick wall, while the political instability has further added to lack of investor confidence.
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Raynold Mhotseka is a Journalism and Media Studies student at the University of Zimbabwe. He serves as a news writer at financial research firm, Equity Axis where he is currently on attachment.