BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has assured its clients that the power generation challenges being experienced by its South African supplier, Eskom would not spill over into Zimbabwe because the power utility had enough electricity to meet local demand.
Eskom announced this week that it was embarking on a load-shedding programme to its local and regional consumers. Zesa and Eskom have a long-standing power sharing agreement, whereby the former imports to augment local supplies.
Zesa spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira yesterday allayed fears that the country would experience increased load-shedding following problems at Eskom.
“While it is important that we are getting power from the region, our import bill is not very big. So there is no need for our customers to panic…,” Gwasira said.
He said currently, the average maximum daily power demand was ranging between 1 400 and 1 700 megawatts.
Zimbabwe used to import 50MW from Mozambique and 300MW from South Africa to meet national demand. Gwasira said the national energy import bill was further reduced by the commissioning of the Kariba South Extension, which added 300MW to the national grid.
Local captains of industry had panicked over developments in South Africa and sought guarantees from Zesa that their businesses would not be affected.
“This is indeed a sad story. Industry in Zimbabwe is already suffering from things like lack of foreign currency, poor water supply and many other utilities. The problem is simply because our government has not invested enough in the generation of our power needs,” Association for Business in Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Victor Nyoni said.
“If Eskom cuts us off, many companies will simply close shop. Companies cannot afford anymore disruptions on the operations.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Sifelani Jabangwe said with the coming in of the Kariba South Extension, the disaster could be minimal.
On Monday, Eskom intensified its load shedding from the planned stage two outages, which require that 2 000 megawatts be cut from the system, to stage four, which requires 4 000 megawatts be shed. Eskom had originally indicated that six generating units had gone down. Eskom – which has been labelled the greatest threat to the South African country’s economy, does not only face operational difficulties, but is expecting a R20-billion loss for the current financial year, while it labours under an almost R420-billion debt.