By Staff Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) chief executive officer, Engineer Josh Chifamba has blamed unfavourable tariffs and delayed sacrifices for plunging the nation into the current electricity crisis.
The remarks come at a time when Zimbabwe is going through a very difficult phase which has seen both households and industry enduring 18 hours long power cuts which authorities have attributed to dwindling water levels at Kariba Dam.
Economists have since warned that should this situation subsist, the few strides made economically will soon be reversed due to erratic productivity.
Government has however made some interventions which include revamping ZESA’s institutional sustainability and tabling plans for further expansion of the power generation capacity among others.
But in a commentary on the crisis, former ZESA boss Engineer Chifamba blamed uncompetitive tariffs and delayed sacrifices as chief among the challenges being experienced.
He said energy is fixed at Kariba with the rationale for expansion having been inspired by the fact that with additional generators, load shedding, especially at peak demand, would be alleviated.
“Kariba would thus change its operating regime & the wholesale price of electricity would be reduced, as imported peaking power was coming in at USc45/kWh, against a retail tariff of USc9/kWh.
“This change was never supposed to be a threat to water in Kariba that it has become,” he said.
Chifamba said outside peak time, output at Kariba was supposed to reduce, to allow for increased output at peak.
In terms of planning, the reduced output would be plugged by new capacity at Hwange thermal, whose commissioning has now started.
The energy expert, who is currently providing consultancy services in the Southern Africa region, said the desire was to bring on stream both Kariba and Hwange to gain the complementary benefits, especially plugging the holes for Kariba.
However, this could not see the light of the day due to funding constraints in an environment of sanctions.
“Thus, Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited, with the same capacity as ZESA at Kariba; but unlike ZESA having leverage to operate according to the new operating regime; after having built new power stations; has kept within its water allocation. It’s that simple!
“So, the addition of generators at Kariba is not, in and of itself, the cause of the water problem at Kariba.
“Issues in the sector have been left unresolved for far too long! The main Achilles heel have been sub economic tariffs and a challenging economic environment,” added Chifamba.