HomeEditorial CommentZesa strategic in achieving Vision 2030

Zesa strategic in achieving Vision 2030

IF there is one organisation that Zimbabwe cannot ignore during current efforts to rebuild the economy, it is power producer Zesa Holdings Limited. The situation at the State-run utility is dire. Statistics coming out of the company demonstrates that instead of improving, Zesa could be haemorrhaging and needs immediate government attention.

For those who know the consequences, this should be unsettling.

The power utility’s output, at about 1 300 megawatts (MW) is way below its 2 200MW capacity. In contrast, demand could now be in the region of 2 000MW, even with industries producing at reduced capacity. Under normal circumstances, this should have jolted a concerned shareholder into action. Most of Zesa’s facilities are producing at about 10% of installed capacity, which is a disaster considering that industries are projecting growth next year and beyond. At this rate of deterioration even the US$1,5 billion expansion at Hwange Power Station may fail to provide a concrete solution to Zimbabwe’s needs.

Rolling blackouts may intensify.

Government must find a solution to the power crisis, otherwise the hyped Vision 2030 strategy will remain a mirage. Failing to achieve Vision 2030 goals would spell doom for the economy, which has not tasted stability for 21 years. Vision 2030 should be the starting point, a confidence booster — and Zesa will be an important factor in the whole gameplan. Government’s recovery efforts must be twinned with efforts to attract investments into the power sector.

Independent Power Producers have been a good starting point, but rebuilding troubled facilities in Bulawayo, Harare and at Munyati must also be a priority before wandering into establishing greenfield projects. New solar facilities being planned may then be devoted to electrifying various cities, giving throughput from current infrastructure impetus to run industries.

For now, there seems to be no urgency in addressing the power crisis, if the rot at Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo power facilities is anything to go by. The delay in promulgating the necessary legislative framework for IPPs to start feeding into the grid should be condemned. When the independence government took over these power plants, they were top notch facilities. They knew that replacements would be required at some point, but they left Zesa to rot before reacting. Zesa used to be a well-functioning utility.

Government must have allowed it to reinvest into assets in order to prepare for a bigger population and economy. Only the government knows why it failed to act in time, only to react now, through expensive facilities from edgy lenders who are demanding premiums on Zimbabwe-bound facilities due to a deteriorating sovereign risk profile. Zesa’s predicament has been compounded by unsustainably low tariffs imposed by the government.

No commercial enterprise survives while producing at a loss, at the instigation of its ever-electioneering shareholder. Consumers, mostly the ruling elite and government agencies, seem to believe that they can get power from Zesa for free and intimidate its officials when they ask for payment.

This must stop!

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