starafricacorporation moves to curtail blackouts

Source: starafricacorporation moves to curtail blackouts – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed conglomerate, starafricacorporation Limited, has moved to curtail rolling blackouts at its operation after suffering production cutbacks.

The firm, whose interests cut across several sectors, yesterday said it had invested in a dedicated powerline and procured a generator during the first quarter ended June 30, 2022 to tackle cuts in power supply, which have also roiled other industries.

Sugar output at starafricacorporation’s refinery slowed during the review period as the power crisis intensified, according to company secretary, Aldo Musemburi.

“Production volumes of granulated white sugar at Goldstar Sugars were 14%
lower than those attained during the prior year comparative period,” Musemburi said, as he shared results for the period with investors.

“Power and steam supply constraints were the main causes of the reduced throughput at the refinery, as they negatively impacted plant uptime. Consequently, the reduced production led to a 3% decrease in sales volumes when compared with the prior year. The business has since installed a 11kV (kilovolt) dedicated power supply line, procured a 1 000kVA generator and electrical cables to augment power supply.”

Zimbabwe’s power crisis has escalated as State electricity producer Zesa Holdings struggles to meet demand due to reduced production.

Imports to augment domestic output have been affected by mounting debts to South African, Zambian and Mozambican power stations.

Across industries, companies are at various stages of assembling solar power plants to run their own power stations.

Zesa projects that the power crisis would be addressed when government completes the US$1,5 billion expansion of Hwange thermal power plant, which is expected to come online early next year.

The expansion would move installed capacity to about 1 300MW from 920MW currently.

Last month, the Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe proposed a fresh power import plan to avert closures.

Demand for electricity has been peaking in line with the entry of massive chrome and iron ore processing facilities that have recently been brought on line.

There have also been significant investments in other sectors, which have not been matched by a corresponding expansion in power generation.

The crisis has been compounded by the return of several mothballed gold mines in the past three years, which has made it crucial for Zimbabwe to scale up expansion plans.

Musemburi said along with investments in  power supply, the firm was finalising an overhaul of its boilers to scale up production.

“An overhaul programme on two of the five boilers is nearing completion. These initiatives are expected to result in significant improvement in production. Production and sales volumes for Country Choice Foods have improved significantly due to the commissioning of an automatic syrup filling machine, a more robust competitive pricing strategy, as well as the introduction of new product lines namely baking powder, raisins and cocoa powder. This resulted in notable increases in sales and production volumes by 81% and 68%, respectively, from the prior year comparative period,” he said.

“Government’s recently introduced tight monetary policy and its focus on fiscal sustainability, if maintained, should lead to lower inflation levels. The threat of COVID-19 on business continuity is expected to be greatly reduced in future as vaccination efforts continue, which should lead to minimal economic disruption. The company will continue focusing on refurbishing critical items of plant and machinery, new product development and the opening of new markets for its sugar specialities,” Musemburi added.