THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority is lobbying Government to slash the import duty on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to promote use of the cheaper energy source.
Gas imports currently attract five percent duty and a 15 percent value added tax.
Gas retailers — whose trading licences are valid for two years — also pay an annual US$520 statutory fee to the Environmental Management Agency and a US$115 levy to Zera.
Despite the growing appeal of LPG, its use has remained muted owing to the cost of its attendant appliances.
Zera CEO Engineer Gloria Magombo told The Sunday Mail Business recently that although the cost of setting up an LPG system “might seem high”, the benefits were “huge” in the long run.
At a leading wholesaler in Harare, an unfilled 19kg gas cylinder costs US$166, while a filled 5kg tank is pegged at US$42. A two-plate stove gas stove with a two-year warranty costs US$64, while four-plate gas stoves range from US$245 to US$300.
The energy regulator said there was need to start producing gas appliances locally, with Zera’s statistics showing 2 500 tonnes of the commodity are used every month.
Experts say Zimbabwe can save 104MW of electricity if consumers switch to gas for cooking and heating, and a US$7,50 budget for a family of four will suffice for cooking and heating for a month.
“Using LPG relieves pressure off the electricity grid, making more power available to industry, agriculture, mining and commerce especially during the peak period,” said Eng Magombo.
Zimbabwe’s power generating infrastructure is presently under stress and as at last Wednesday, small thermal power stations Munyati and Bulawayo, which have a combined power generation capacity of 190MW, were not operating. Harare, which has installed capacity of 100MW, was generating 24MW.
Kariba South and Hwange thermal power stations were producing 616MW and 344MW respectively, which is almost half their combined installed capacity of 1 675MW.
Apart from licensing LPG operators to ensure the supply of safe, quality, affordable and reliable energy to consumers, Zera also conducts customer education, promotion of alternative energy and awareness workshops on LPG together with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.
Zera has trained 30 LPG installers, while over 1 000 LPG fillers have also been trained in line with local standard controls.
This month, Zera is expected to engage over 300 LPG consumers in Mutare on safe use of gas, rights and responsibilities as energy users and energy efficiency, among other issues.
The Zimbabwe Indigenous Gas Dealers Association has also said it will embark on a Go Gas Campaign to promote wider use of gas to reduce deforestation as many people in rural areas rely on wood for light and heating.
The use of LPG is rising around the globe.
Last year, consumption of LPG in Nigeria was expected to hit 500 000 metric tonnes, from 350 000mt a year earlier. Kenya, the biggest economy in East Africa, has scrapped duty on LPG to make more affordable.