By Bulawayo Correspondent
INDUSTRY capacity utilisation in Zimbabwe has plummeted from 50 to around 30 percent as a result of the current electricity crisis, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has revealed.
Addressing delegates at the on-going 5th edition of the Water, Sanitation and Energy Conference in Bulawayo on Thursday, CZI Matabeleland Chapter President Shepherd Chawira said the current energy crisis in the country has reached crippling levels for industry to continue operating smoothly.
“There is no doubt that energy and water, coupled with other challenges in our economy has put industry in a downward trajectory,” Chawira said
“You may want to know that capacity utilisation was last measured at around 48 -50 % at the beginning of the year. We now believe has dropped to around 30%. Agent interventions are needed to keep the country on track towards vision 2030.”
Chawira said due to the power cuts, most industries have resorted to the use of diesel which has led to massive cost increases.
“We note an increase in the imports of fuel and not the same for electricity imports.
“We are using diesel imports to power generators as an alternative source of electricity when we feel the same money could be used to import electricity itself instead.”
The CZI president blamed ZESA‘s ballooning debt on some politicians he said were not paying their utility bills.
“Over the years, there are groups of electricity consumers who have accumulated debts with no concrete action towards recovering such debts. This is partly the reason why electricity supply situation to the country has been compromised and this should not be allowed to continue.
“The utility should be supported with real political will to implement proper and credible debt recovery system,” he said.
Chawira warned that any new tariff regime adjustment without robust debt management recovery would derail all efforts to address the country’s supply system.
“As the new tariff is put in place, it must be supported by debt management measures,” he said.
ZESA is planning to review upwards electricity tariffs.