Local industry engages Government on power challenges Mr Kurai Matsheza

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says it is engaging the Government to find solutions to the prevailing power shortages, which pose a serious threat to industrial productivity and growth.

Power outages, which have intensified in the past months, have resulted in domestic and industrial consumers going for long hours without electricity outside the normal load shedding periods.

The situation, blamed on frequent breakdowns at Hwange Thermal Power 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 low water levels.

Asked about the potential impact of last week’s decision by the ZRA on industrial operations, CZI president Kurai Matsheza said local industry had been caught “flat-footed,” but they remained optimistic of a solution being found by the authorities.

“It’s 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.

This, he said, could be done through, for example, investing in solar energy. For example, firms including beverage maker Schweppes are investing in renewable energy to power their 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.

In light of the power challenges, Cabinet deliberated on the matter 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.

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. – New Ziana

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