Local industry engaging govt on power challenges
Harare (New Ziana) – The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) is engaging the government to find solutions to the power shortages which the country is experiencing, which it says pose a serious threat to industrial productivity and growth.
Power outages, which have intensified in recent months, have resulted in domestic and industrial consumers going for long hours outside the normal load shedding periods without electricity.
The situation, blamed on frequent breakdowns at the Hwange Thermal station, has now been compounded by last week’s decision by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to stop the Zimbabwe Power Company from generating electricity at Kariba Dam until at least January due to water shortages.
In an interview with New Ziana, CZI president Kurai Matsheza said local industry had been caught “flat-footed,” but they remained optimistic of a solution.
“It is a situation we are engaging the authorities on, just to find a common way of coming out of this situation, but unfortunately there are no quick answers, so we just have to keep negotiating,” he said.
“We also encourage the government to speed up whatever accommodation we can have with the Zambian authorities, for example, to be allowed to use their portion of the water in the Zambezi to continue running on our side or alternatively they can sell to us the electricity they would have generated.”
Matsheza said while the government was pursuing other means to ensure the country was energy sufficient, local industry was also being encouraged to secure alternative power.
He said this could be done through, for example, investing in solar energy.
Some firms, for example, beverage maker Schweppes, are investing in renewable energy to power its operations across the country.
“That is commendable but unfortunately it is something you cannot just do, it is a project you have got to plan, look for funding and do it over a long time. But we are encouraging our members to do that,” Matsheza said.
Cabinet deliberated on the power challenges on Tuesday and said remedies were expected to be announced and rolled out soon.
“Cabinet deliberated on the issue of Zimbabwe’s energy and power supply. A detailed statement on the matter will be issued by the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Honourable Zhemu Soda, as soon as consultations are finalised,” read part of a post Cabinet briefing statement.
Anticipation is high that the coming on stream of the new Hwange Unit 7 before the end of the year would help ease shortages.
Last week, the new unit at the Hwange power station was successfully turned on for the first time, bringing the country closer to producing an additional 300 Megawatts.
When complete, the two units, Hwange 7 and 8, are expected to produce a total of 600 megawatts.
Several independent power producers are at various stages of implementing their projects to augument the existing output.