Govt: Power cuts set to ease beginning this week

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By Alois Vinga

FINANCE Ministry secretary, George Guvamatanga says electricity supplies are set to improve this week following a number of import related measures put into place by government.

He was addressing captains of Industry in Harare on Monday.

Guvamatanga said government has made arrangements which will see the country’s 18-hour load shedding schedule relaxed a bit to allow citizens to enjoy the necessity for much longer periods.

“On the issue of electricity, from tomorrow onwards, supply must begin to improve because we have made arrangements with electricity suppliers who I will not mention because it is not my role to be doing so.

“We have actually agreed on the repayment of the legacy debt and the first instalment was made last week and we will be making weekly instalments until we reach a stage where we will be paying on a current basis,” he said.

The treasury secretary said through agreements reached with some mining sector players, they were hopeful to secure adequate resources to pay for at least 400 Megawatts of electricity per month with plans to revise it later.

“We now need to find more resources to be able to pay suppliers. The situation has been worsened by what we experienced in Kariba where we were hard hit from a production level of 700 megawatts to the current 250 megawatts which means that the shortfall has to be imported,” Guvamatanga added.

Power cuts have cost manufacturers more than ZWL$200 million in lost production since June, according to business member organisations.

The country’s largest mobile operator Econet Wireless said in July it was struggling to maintain its network.

It said 1,300 base stations, a quarter of its total, now run on diesel generators for over 18 hours a day, burning 2 million litres of fuel every month and adding to its operating costs.

A raft of measures have since been effected which include lowering taxation on solar consumables and encouraging companies with potential to generate their own electricity.

In the long term, China’s Sinohydro Corp plans to add another 600 MW at the Hwange thermal station, while Zimbabwe and Zambia will start building a 2,400 MW hydro power plant next year.