Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) will with immediate effect, facilitate the arrest of companies or individuals found selling or manufacturing bulbs or lighting products that consume too much electricity.
Anyone found using or distributing incandescent bulbs or ordinary filament lamps, faces an imprisonment term of up to one year and or a fine of up to $5 000.
Incandescent bulbs were banned in the country on May 1, 2017 under Statutory Instrument 21 of 2017.
The country is advocating the use of more efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs that are said to have the capacity to save the country about 300MW of electricity per month.
Zera in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and police will carry out inspections at shops in the country to confiscate any inefficient lighting products and effect arrest of offenders.
Speaking at a stakeholder workshop that was held in Bulawayo yesterday Zera official Engineer Tanda Chisi said a replacement of 5.5 million incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs could save Zimbabwe over 300MW of power monthly.
“LED bulbs use up to 90 percent less energy and last more than six times longer than ordinary filament lamps. While a conventional bulb uses an average of 130kWh at $13 per year, a LED bulb requires only 15kWh at $1,50 annually. The compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is another energy-saver, using 24kWh at $2,40 per year,” he said.
ng Chisi said incandescent lamps uses 10 times more energy than the equivalent LED lamps for the same light output.
Some LED bulbs on the market have wrongly labelled ratings and such offenders will be prosecuted.”
he Director of Energy, Conservation and Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Dr Sosten Ziuku said the ban on conventional filament light bulbs under this new regulation is aimed at enhancing Zimbabwe’s energy efficiency.
“The regulation is meant to save electricity which will be channelled to other productive sectors of the economy and reduce consumer electricity bills. Moreover, this measure will contribute to foreign currency savings as the country is constantly importing power from South Africa and Mozambique especially during peak hours when the lighting load is high and the electricity prices are high as well,” he said.
Dr Ziuku said the banning of inefficient lighting products is not peculiar to Zimbabwe as other Sadc countries and the rest of the world are moving in that direction.
Zera chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo said S1 21 2017 bars importation, manufacture, installation/contracting, distribution or selling of lighting products which do not meet the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs) as defined in the regulations and all rejects will be seized and disposed of.
“Lighting products which do not meet the MEPs will be seized pending an investigation and may be disposed of. Manufacturers and suppliers found in stock of these will be found guilty and liable to a fine of up to $5 000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.
“All importers of lighting products for sale or distribution shall register with Zera while lighting products should have labels which indicate voltage, wattage, lumens, life span and energy efficiency class and maximum acceptable mercury content in lighting products is specified for fluorescent lighting,” she said.
Consumers were, however, given an allowance to use up those bulbs they had already purchased and replace them with LED lighting as soon as they are used up.
Eng Magombo said: “These regulations are meant to protect consumers from substandard lighting products as well as ensure efficient use of electricity in the country. However, a grace period shall be in place to conscientise and raise public awareness on the proper bulbs.”
Zera also banned incandescent light bulbs, with the exception of special incandescent lighting products such as medical and laboratory equipment and halo phosphate fluorescent lamps.
She said Zimbabwe would not face an electricity blackout or load shedding as has been said in sections of the media, after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe started processing the payments to South Africa to resolve an impasse on the electricity importation bill.
In 2011, Zesa Holdings introduced a $12 million bulb exchange programme, and thousands of households received free compliant bulbs in exchange for their filament bulbs.