ZIMBABWE'S ZESA OWES 100 MLN USD TO REGIONAL POWER UTILITIES -- MINISTER

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HARARE, Feb 25 (BERNAMA-NNN-NEW ZIANA) -- Zimbabwe''s state-owned power

utility, Zesa Holdings Ltd, owes other regional utilities US$100 million,

hindering its ability to import electricity, says Energy and Power Development

Minister Elton Mangoma.

He told journalists here Thursday that the country was currently importing

between 100 and 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Mozambique and Zambia to

supplement the country’s own generation of 1,400 MW against demand of more than

2,000 MW.

"These countries are willing to export more power if we pay for the current

imports and something towards the accumulated debt of nearly US$100 million

USD," said Mangoma, who added that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was

also willing to export between 50 and 100 MW starting next month.

In spite of the power shortage in the country, Zimbabwe was also exporting

150 MW to Namibia as part of an agreement reached between the two countries when

the latter funded the rehabilitation of Zimbabwe''s Hwange Power Station (HPS).

The minister said Zimbabwe was failing to generate enough electricity to

meet domestic demand because there had been no major investment in the sector

for many years.

"There has also been no meaningful repair and maintenance to both generation

plants and transmission and distribution networks over the last 12 years," he

said.

Mangoma added that the current rainy season had also exposed the fragilities

of the country’s dilapidated transmission and distribution network, while the

power utility also had to contend with high cases of equipment vandalism.

The minister said Zesa Holdings, which has had its proposed 30 per cent

tariff increase suspended, required a viable tariff to allow it to invest in new

capacity. The proposed tariff was suspended on Tuesday, following a public

outcry over the higher charges, which both business and consumers said were

unjustifiably high.

Meanwhile, Mangoma said plans were underway to boost the country’s power

generation capacity at the two main power stations in the medium term. The plans

included boosting the output at HPS by 600 MW and at Kariba South by 300 MW.

Two more power projects with additional capacity of up to 4,500 MW were also

in the pipeline, with the first one expected to come onstream by 2014.

In the long term, projects to increase generation to over 15,000 MW had also

been lined up, the minister said.

Mangoma reiterated plans to introduce a prepaid metering system as part of

efforts to rationalize electricity as well address the contentious issue of high

utility bills.

The minister described as “shambolic and beyond repair” the billing system

currently being used by the power utility.

-- BERNAMA-NNN-NEW ZIANA

LKC RT

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