Govt Looks To Sugarcane Farmers To Alleviate Power Outages

Simplicius Chirinda

Harare, October 11, 2013 – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF led government is now desperately looking eastwards to sugarcane farmers to boost the country’s power generating capacity as shortages persist.

Dzikamai Mavhaire, the Minister of Energy and Power Development told Radio VOP that he will travel to Chisumbanje ethanol plant in Chipinge, Manicaland province on Friday to ask sugarcane and ethanol producers to consider pumping some of the power that they produce for their operations to the country’s starved electricity grid.

“I will be going to Chisumbanje to ask the producers of ethanol to feed some of the power that they generate at the plant into the country’s electricity grid. They produce excess power than they need

for their production so we are considering all options available to help solve the problem we are having,” said Mavhaire.

“It’s better for them to direct some of the power to the electricity grid because they have nothing to do with the excess power which is lost in the air,” he added.

The Chisumbanje ethanol plant powers itself and has the capacity to produce excess power which can be redirected into the country’s electricity grid.

According to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zimbabwe is currently producing less power to meet the national demand. And to make matters worse some power utilities in the SADC region among them Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo have stopped electricity exports due to rising demands back home and the failure by Harare to service its debts.

The country requires about 1 800 megawatts per day, but local power stations are currently producing only 1 100 megawatts leaving a huge power deficit which compels ZESA to effect load shedding.

Zimbabwe has not had any significant new investment in power generation since independence in 1980. It is currently negotiating a joint power generating project at Batoka Gorge with Zambia. So far the deal is stuck on cost sharing arrangements.

 

Government critics blame power outages, raw material shortages and government mismanagement for eroding the country’s manufacturing sector, a charge which the Zanu PF administration deny and blame on the sanctions imposed by western governments.