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Power outages suffocate already struggling remaining few industries' business

by Stephen Jakes
23 Oct 2015 at 07:30hrs | Views
The goings are getting tough and tougher for Industries in Bulawayo and other parts of the country due to the advent of the current escalated electricity load shedding forcing the already struggling remaining few industries to have serious set backs in their operations as they spend the better party of their days without power to running their high powered machines.

The developments come as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)'s subsidiary the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) started implementing hyped electricity load shedding which now sees most parts of the country having 18 hours without electricity.

This comes following the reduction of capacity at Kariba hydro-electric Power Station from 750 megawatts to 475 megawatts necessitated by the decline in water levels in the Kariba Dam which has also affected the neighbouring Zambia.

Addressing Parliemant on Tuesday Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge said major mining companies and other large electricity consumers will have to reduce consumption by up to 25% while security cantonments have been asked to load shed non critical areas as part of the measures adopted by government to reduce massive power cuts being experienced across the country.

"Large users such as Mimosa, Unki, Zimplats, Zimasco, ZimAlloys and Afrochine among others are top be asked by ZETDC to drop load by 25 on the basis of existing contracts. This ii expected to yield 25MW," Undenge said.

He said Zimbabwwe National Army and the police forces shall be requested to voluntarily load shed non critical and residential loads at their institutions so as to share the burden. Zimbabwe requires 2,200 megawatts at peak period of demand against current generation potential of 900MW to 1,200MW.

Undenge said one way of reducing demand is to use the available power more efficiently, all sectors of the economy to use energy efficiently so as to reduce demand hence lessening the burden of load-shedding.

"As Government, we have adopted the following measures to reduce power demand now and in the medium term. The first measure we have banned the inefficient incandescent lighting, serving lighting. I am not talking about the Manicaland Air force Mom Hindi. So this will save 70 megawatts," he said.

"Incandescent lighting is one of the most inefficient systems and we have moved away from that technology to new technology. For example, led lights this saves electricity up to 70%. That simple switch on its own, cumulatively, we are going to save 70 megawatts."

He said another measure is developing energy efficient regulations for industry, mining, agriculture and the commercial sector. The other measure is that we are encouraging and promoting the use of LPG gas for cooking in order to conserve power.

National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe President, Givemore Mesoemvura said bakers in the country were now facing serious challenges considering the fact that power cuts have led them to opt to use diesel to power their machines which is now too cost for them. He said some bakeries operated by supermarkets have since closed shop due to cost associated with the operations using other energy sources other than electricity.

"All the sectors of industry are affected by power cuts and at the moment we are managing to contain the costs but with time we will not manage," said Mesoemvura.

Chamber of mine Chief Executive Isaac Kwesu said without power the mining industry is doomed. He challenged Zesa to prioritise supply to industry, especially mining to avoid potential loss of jobs closure of mining companies, scaling down of operations and missed projected growth targets.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Busisa Moyo said power outages was crippling industries operations to a larger extent at the moment.

Moyo accused Zesa for failing to consult stakeholders over the 18 hour load shedding.

"If we are to move forward as a nation we need convergence but unfortunately we don't have it. For example, Zesa has come out with a load shedding schedule and all kinds of things without talking to business," Moyo said.

"This is a big challenge that you issue out a load shedding schedule without discussing with business."

Moyo said load-shedding threatens to reduce few industries still operating and would also see companies cutting back on expansion projects meant to create jobs which are in demand.

He said the power shortage affected industrial areas like Workington, Southerton and Msasa in Harare, Belmont, Donnington and Kelvin in Bulawayo and Bata in Gweru.

He said the load shedding comes at a time when companies were preparing to meet the increased demand associated with the forthcoming festive season.

ZNCC urged government to boost electricity generation to ensure business operates saying the current power cuts makes Zimbabwe unattractive for investment.

Organisation's Chief Ececutive Officer Christopher Mugaga said power cuts were seriously affecting industry and therefore the move was repellent to potential investors.

ZNCC Matabeleland chapter chairman Mr Crispen Mugova said the manufecturing sector faces serious crisis due to increased power cuts.

He said when power is cut off companies involved in synthetic products, all products being worked on become wastage. Bakeries, he added, were also losing out if power is cut off during baking.

Reports say local manufacturing industry is losing at least 20 percent of production time daily due to increased power cuts, a situation that might see capacity utilisation in some companies plunging to below 25 percent.

Capacity utilisation for most companies is hovering between 30 and 35 percent.

Also Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made bemoaned the power shortages which he said would seriously affect the revival of the agricultural sector and downstream industries.

"Can you imagine a seed company using generators to dry seed and still expect to remain in business or sell the product at profitable prices?" he said.

Made said he was disappointed to note that some seed houses were actually using generators to dry the seed because of the power cuts.

Source - Byo24News