Energy and Power Development minister, Soda Zhemu, says power cuts will persist because Zimbabwe’s electricity is too cheap.
He says this is pushing “unproductive” demand by domestic customers.
Zhemu is supporting power utility ZESA’s request to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) for a review of tariffs. The last review was in January.
The minister says on average, domestic consumers use US$10 of electricity each month, usually paid in the Zimbabwe dollar which has been losing value every week since the start of the year. Zhemu is quoted as saying by the Business Weekly:
The tariff has been severely eroded and what we now see is the rising demand of unproductive electricity especially by domestic customers.
Until there is restoration of a viable tariff, the situation will remain fragile.
We need a viable tariff and I understand that ZESA has applied for a tariff review and I want to believe the regulator ZERA is considering the application
Zimbabweans has been experiencing constant power cuts for the past two years as the country is unable to produce enough electricity to meet demand.
ZESA, the local power utility, owes regional power companies millions of dollars and, therefore, remains constrained from importing power to cover the gap due to foreign currency shortages.
The minister said electricity had become cheaper than gas, causing gas users to switch back to ZESA, adding to the power demand.
In February, ZESA was producing 1 285MW against the country’s peak demand of 1 700MW.
Regular machinery breakdowns at the coal-fired Hwange Power Station have also added to ZESA’s woes.
The last tariff increase approved by ZERA was 12.3 percent. ZESA officials have publicly declared that they would like to see a tariff increase of higher than 100 percent.