Zim faces unprecedented power crisis

via Zim faces unprecedented power crisis | The Financial Gazette – Zimbabwe News 4 Jun 2015

ZIMBABWE plunged into an unprecedented electricity supply crisis this week after the country’s power supply company intensified load-shedding due to worsening generation capacity, caused in part by a technical fault at Hwange Power Station.
Consequently, the country will endure its darkest winter season in history, as it would be unable to augment domestic electricity supplies with imports.
To worsen matters, ZESA Holdings is already faced with a 400 megawatts (MW) plunge in generation capacity at Kariba Power Station occasioned by the fall in water supplies in Kariba Dam.
The power utility this week warned “customers countrywide” to brace for “an increase in load shedding outside the publicised schedule due to a technical fault at Hwange Power Station”.
Although ZESA, an integrated power generation and distribution company, said it was working to restore generation at the plant, this is not the first time problems have occurred at Hwange Power Station, whose plant is aged and desperate for refurbishment.
A source indicated that supplies would be assured, but not guaranteed, for major referral hospitals, water and sewer installations, national security establishments, airports and broadcasting stations and central business districts.
“The rest of the country will receive power for between seven and 17 hours a day,” the source said.
Even before ZESA’s warning, households and industries have been subjected to load shedding of between three to five hours daily.
The vulnerable and constrained power generation system is, however, likely to lead to extended periods of programmed blackouts triggered by insufficient electricity generation.
But there were fears that unexpected disruptions caused by plant breakdowns due to old age would also worsen during this period.
Two weeks ago, the Financial Gazette reported that water levels in Kariba Dam had dropped to record lows following a prolonged drought in southern Africa.
As a result, electricity supplies from Kariba Power Station, Zimbabwe’s biggest electricity generator, are likely to plunge by 400MW.
Zambia, which shares the same water resource for its electricity production, has already cut generation by 300MW and warned last week that this could further go down by as much as 600MW due to the water situation in Kariba Dam.
The Zambezi River Authority, responsible for the management of water in the Zambezi River basin from which both Zimbabwe and Zambia draw their water for hydroelectricity, has been forced to reduce water allocation for electricity generation from 45 billion cubic metres per annum to 33 billion cubic metres due to dwindling water supplies.
The situation is likely to get worse after this winter season as rivers feeding into the Zambezi River, upstream of Kariba Dam, dry around August or September.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing crippling power shortages for a long time now because available generation of about 1 000MW has been unable to meet demand of over 2 000MW.
Industry players and lobby groups warned the situation would have grave consequences on industry, already grappling with low capacity utilisation due to power shortages, among other problems.
A report by the Chamber of Mines said mines were already “battling with reliability of electricity supply”.
It said power outages caused by faults and load shedding had resulted in a loss of production time by as much as 10 percent.
There was no immediate comment from mining industry executives over the threat of increased power outages, but analysts contend this would be dire.
“Power is one of the many infrastructural utilities which are supposed to play an enabling role in the economy,” said Dephine Mazambani-Mutafera, chief economist at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).
She said the 2014 CZI Manufacturing Sector Survey had highlighted that electricity shortages were on top of five identified constraints to capacity utilisation in industry.
“Power cuts and shortages were recorded as the most problematic infrastructure factors by companies. Eight percent of respondents indicated they had to reduce the number of working hours due to power cuts,” said Mazambani-Mutafera.
“Given the production processes, sometimes it’s difficult to stop a process when it has commenced hence companies have a backup system which can be in the form of a generator. This is an expensive system to maintain compared to electricity.”
But she said they had observed that many companies did not have power supply backup, resulting in increased redundancies and production decline.
“But earnings per worker do not decline as our wages and salaries are not related to productivity. A company will have to incur labour costs regardless of not producing,” she said.
Mazambani-Mutafera said foreign investors were shunning Zimbabwe because of the electricity supply situation.
“Investors look at the assurance that they will have sufficient reliable power supply. So, given the anticipated crisis, we expect few investors to consider Zimbabwe as an investment destination,” she said.
The recovery of the productive sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, mining and tourism, which government hopes to underpin revival of the country’s comatose economy, is likely to suffer a huge blow due to the worsening power supply situation, she said.
thers contended that the cost of load shedding on the environment is also too ghastly to contemplate at a time when the country is losing 300 000 hectares of forests to both domestic and industrial users desperate for power.
Unstable power supplies are causing companies to incur heavy losses as some processes are interrupted thereby affecting the quality of products.
Some processes are also delayed or aborted resulting in failure to meet deadlines and targets for many companies.
The situation is invariably scuttling away potential investors.
The prevailing electricity shortages will see the country revising downwards its projected 3,2 percent economic growth and more of the suffering industries will shut down units, exacerbating the already unstable unemployment situation. newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 9
  • comment-avatar
    grabmore 7 years ago

    Let’s publish again the list of chefs who enjoy free magetz 24/7 and how much they owe.

  • comment-avatar
    R Judd 7 years ago

    Does anybody of sound mind still think Uncle Robert and his fools are capable of running this country?

  • comment-avatar
    David 7 years ago

    We know they are incapable. The problem is how to get rid of them. They are a cancer that I’m afraid only radical treatment will only rid us of them.

  • comment-avatar
    Johann 7 years ago

    The liberation war wasn’t fought for nothing. Mugabe the racist claims it was to top racism and free the people. The real reason was to stop this type of corrupt incompetent intollerant government from taking hold.

  • comment-avatar
    Chanisa 7 years ago

    It’s an incompetent government yes Johann, but don’t mix issues. The war was fought because your kin Smith made black people unhappy, just as this government is making its people unhappy.

  • comment-avatar
    Dusty 7 years ago

    Chanisa – what black people are you talking about? Anyway you have got what you wanted – enjoy it. I love it when black people say well as least we are in charge of our own affairs – I love it!!!! Enjoy your freedom and being in charge of your own affairs – you have deserved it.

  • comment-avatar

    great reply Dusty!

  • comment-avatar
    Johann 7 years ago

    If it was a liberation war why are the people of zimbabwe not free irrespective of their colour? For 35 years Mugabe has successfully got away with race being the issue.Some people find it perfectly acceptable to be oppressed by one of their own colour but not from another. Until this attitude changes we will continue to have a government based upon tribe and not qualification.

  • comment-avatar
    chimusoro 7 years ago

    Don’t worry-things will get better soon!