Zesa needs US$2,4b

Ngoni Chanakira

ZESA Holdings executive chairman Sydney Gata says his financially beleaguered company needs more than US$2,4 billion for its planned power sector investment projects.



>Zesa, which is currently being transformed into a commercial entity, is at the centre of a major crisis because of its failure to pay local and international creditors.


The firm is also failing to provide sufficient power countrywide and at times has had to resort to impromptu load-shedding, much to the dismay of industrialists and domestic consumers.


Despite receiving financial assistance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s foreign currency auction system, Zesa’s arrears currently stand at US$56 million.


It owes Mozambique’s HCB US$31,5 million, Eskom of South Africa US$16 million, Snel of the Democratic Republic of the Congo US$5 million, and Zambia’s Zesco US$3,5 million.


The company’s total arrears on the Zimbabwe dollar bills stands at $58,8 billion, with some customers now over 90 days.


Last week, another cash-strapped firm, Wankie Colliery Company, revealed that it was owed more than $9 billion by Zesa for coal supplies. It said the last payment had been made in January.


Wankie said it had since reduced coal deliveries to the power authority.

Gata, at the annual Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries annual congress in the Victoria Falls, however denied knowledge of the whopping debt, saying it was news to him.


In a lengthy presentation to the congress, Gata was at pains to explain to business executives the problems currently bedevilling Zesa.


He said the power utility was not receiving adequate funds from the RBZ auction system, despite “sometimes crying to them” for help.


He said generation projects planned until the year 2010 would chew up US$1,3 billion, transmission projects US$543 million, distribution projects US$247 million, heavy engineering US$85 million, power telecommunications US$35 million, and the Expanded Rural Electrification Programme (EREP) with Electricity End-Use Infrastructure Development US$207 million.


“The total value of our summary of planned power sector investment projects for the period 2004 to 2010 comes to US$2,416 billion,” Gata said.


He said Zesa was facing several operational obstacles that threatened its viability, which could result in it failing to deliver power to Zimbabweans in the “not too distant future”.