ZETDC calls for private investment in energy sector

The country’s power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), has implored economic players across all sectors to invest in renewable energy to complement government’s power generation efforts.

Speaking during a stakeholder engagement meeting, ZETDC acting managing director, Abel Gurupira, said the power sector had been opened up, and no longer a preserve for the power utility.

“I am happy that we are having engagements with players across all sectors,” he said. “We are open to meet all sectors in the beneficiation and value addition. The space for power generation is now open, and its no longer a preserve for Zesa alone. 

“You can generate for self-consumption and you can also come to us, that is why you heard us talking about net metering where you channel excess power to us.” 

Zimbabwe is grappling with power shortages due to low generation, and sharply rising demand which has outstripped supply by far.

Lack of capital to replace or refurbish old equipment is also a major challenge.

Gurupira said the power utility was happy that some players in the mining sector had taken the initiative to invest in power generation, which will help alleviate the problem.

“I think we need a mindset shift now, we should stop thinking that Zesa is government, and power should be cheap. This is business and if we don’t think along those lines the vehicle will collapse,” he said.

“What is better, to have the right tariffs and have reliable and stable electricity or to have collapsed, erratic delivery at a cheap price?” 

Gurupira said from a generation, transmission and distribution point of view, the parastatal is looking at US$2,8 billion for rehabilitation and refreshment, and repowering of its Hwange Units 1 and 6.

He said due to the sub-economic tariff structure, about US$3,7 billion had been lost in potential revenue.

“The sub optimal tariffs have led to difficulties on the part of Zesa in terms of recapitalisation. We have an aged infrastructure that needs to be replaced,” he said. “All our equipment such as generators are imported and need foreign currency.” 

Gurupira said due to sub-optimal tariffs, no investor was willing to come where they don’t recoup their costs.

“So, when we are clamouring for the decrease of tariffs, we need to see the ripple effect of the whole process. Outages are a result of sub-optimal tariffs,” said Gurupira.

He assured stakeholders that the power utility was working round the clock to implement measures aimed at reducing the severity of load-shedding, to help boost industrial productivity.

The recent commissioning of Hwange Units 7 and 8, with a capacity of 600MW, has helped boast power supplies, and reduce load-shedding. — New Ziana

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