Thandeka Matebesi, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Energy Council (ZEC) says that the country requires 4200 MW to ensure that both urban and rural areas are electrified.
ZEC executive director Mr Panganayi Sithole said major power projects such as the expansion of the Hwange Power Station were not taking into account the rural areas.
“The country is producing something in the range of 1 200 to 1 300 MW of power from its power generating plants and the Government says the country requires about 1 600 MW for it to be optimised.
The Government is therefore saying that the 400 MW will be met by the extension happening at Hwange power station, however, that 1 600 that the Government is talking about is only for industry and urban people who already have access to power to ensure that there are no power cuts and even for industry utilisation to get to 60-70 percent capacity.
If we are going to power our growth points and service centres we will require something like 4 200 MW according to our calculations. We need to work with a bigger figure that depicts the situation on the ground,” said Mr Sithole.
He said the Government should consider refurbishing smaller power plants that would service rural areas and growth points.
“What we require from the Government is that the effort it is putting in electrifying urban areas and industries or the effort that the Government is putting into the extension of Hwange power station which requires $1,4 billion, it should put that same effort in electrifying rural areas by working on smaller stations,” he said.
He added: “There is very minimal effort being put in electrifying rural areas, if you look at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), on an annual basis, it only gets about $41 million from the six percent charges from electricity tariffs.
They don’t get any extra funds from anywhere. It is from that $41 million that they are required to electrify business centres, households, hospitals, clinics, schools and it’s inadequate.”
The actual construction works for Zesa’s US$1,4 billion Hwange Power Station (HPS) 7 and 8 extension project are already in progress, giving hope the project will be completed within time and original budget.
Zimbabwe Energy Council is a vehicle for strategic networking by stakeholders who have a broad interest in national, continental and global energy issues.