BRANDON JOSPHAT and BRIGHTON MURONZEREYI
REELING businesses are pushing for an urgent all-stakeholders’ meeting in a desperate bid to find lasting solutions to the country’s worsening power crisis that is badly affecting industry, commerce and ordinary consumers alike.
This comes amid intensifying power cuts that have seriously affected the lives of ordinary people, while forcing some companies to completely close down.
It also comes as authorities have promised long-suffering Zimbabweans that they would likely experience no power cuts at all as from April next year.
The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Kurai Matsheza, was among the concerned business leaders who told the Daily News yesterday that an all-stakeholders’ indaba could help to find lasting solutions to the current brutal blackouts.
“Load-shedding has been disastrous for the manufacturing sector. When you do not have power, you cannot produce much, and productivity is very often halted.
“Sometimes the power cuts are unannounced and they cause damage to machinery. The losses that arise are very big and this is taking us backwards.
“Looking at the last quarter projections it will not be as good as we expected because there has been little productivity,” Matsheza told the Daily News.
“The problem of load-shedding has been there for a long time and it seems it will not be resolved overnight. There is a need, therefore, for engagement with the authorities and to have a series of meetings to find a lasting solution to these power cuts.
“I know we are not there yet, but engagement would be able to help bring something meaningful to the table. So, we look forward to consultative meetings with the government,” he added.
On his part, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR), Denford Mutashu, also said they were keen to meet authorities over the deepening power crisis.
“Electricity is mainly used for lighting, air conditioning, and food refrigeration and network infrastructure, as well as for ventilation systems.
“We are, therefore, concerned over the increased load-shedding experience which is also adding to high overhead costs.
“In this regard, we are calling for an all-stakeholders meeting with the government to address this situation,” he said, adding that power tariff hikes had also impacted negatively on industrial production.
All this also comes as authorities have promised both business and consumers that they will likely experience no power cuts at all as from April next year.
Speaking to the Daily News last month, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Energy and Power Development, Gloria Magombo, said power utility Zesa was scheduled to complete the first of its two new 300 megawatt (MW) plants in Hwange by the end of November this year, which she said would help to ease the current heavy load-shedding in the country.
The other new 300MW power plant at Hwange was expected to come on stream at the end of April next year — at which point it was projected that the menace of electricity blackouts would end altogether.
“With the current demand and regional supply challenges, we expect to address power shortages by ensuring that Hwange Unit 7’s new 300 megawatt plant comes in on time at the end of November, with the balance of 300 megawatts from Unit 8 becoming available by the end of the first quarter next year.
“The coming in of Unit 7 will bring in major relief. Although it’s not going to resolve all the power problems, the additional 300 megawatts will definitely improve the situation.
“Once the units currently being repaired in Hwange also come back, there will be some relief, but the bigger gain will come when we have Unit 7 on,” Magombo told the Daily News then.
She also said the current power crisis had been worsened by depressed imports from neighbouring countries.
“The lack of additional import capacity is aggravating the situation. Zesa is accessing imports from (South Africa’s) Eskom, Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) and the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), although in limited quantities.
“We urge the public to use power efficiently and sparingly during this difficult period, and to also invest in systems that complement Zesa’s efforts,” Magombo added then. – Daily News