THE Zimbabwe government on Tuesday said that more than 60 percent of the country’s 13 million people have no access to electricity as the country struggles to meet demand, accelerating deforestation and woodland degradation.
Energy ministry Permanent Secretary Partson Mbiriri told delegates attending commemorations of the Clean Energy Week in the capital that most people in the country were still using traditional sources of energy such as firewood for cooking.
“A recent survey by the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) of the University of Zimbabwe, shows that of the 13,1 million in Zimbabwe about eight million or 60 percent have no access to electricity,” said Mbiriri.The southern African country is in the throes of biting electricity shortages causing rolling power cuts and produces about 1,000 megawatts of electricity daily, less than half its peak demand, forcing local industries to use costly diesel generators to keep operations running while households resort to firewood.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Zimbabwe lost an annual average of 327,000 hectares of forests between 1990 and 2010 and Mbiriri said the environmental impact could be devastating.
“We need to look for innovative solution to help the bulk of the population residing in rural areas access modern forms of energy. We cannot continue to think that it is normal for the bulk of the population to continue using firewood, more so when our forests are dwindling,” he said.
Mbiriri noted that access to modern forms of energy could unlock a lot of potential in rural areas and other areas deprived of such energy.
Last week, the power utility ZESA Holdings published a load shedding schedule showing that all towns and cities will experience up 18 hours per day as it grapples to meet demand.
Recently, Zesa announced that Hwange thermal power station would undergo maintenance until October 7, while Kariba, which has cut back on generation due to low water levels, would see its maintenance stretch to January 28, 2016.