Zesa keeps firms on power drive

The Chronicle

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter

THE manufacturing sector has so far been spared from the massive load shedding being implemented by the power utility, Zesa, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has said.

The country is facing serious power generation constraints at its major plants, a situation that has forced Zesa to adopt a tight load shedding programme that goes for more than 12 hours in some places.

Consumers have expressed outcry amid fears the situation would negatively impact on the productive sector.

However, CZI vice president, Mr Walter Chigwada, yesterday told Business Chronicle that they were happy that the power utility has been sincere and spared industry from the load shedding programme.

“So far industry has not really been affected much. They are trying as much as possible to ensure industry runs,” he said. 

“It’s only on the domestic side where people are really suffering but for industry here and there we get faults or a challenge but it’s not really a constraint for industry as yet.

“The CBD (Central Business District) has been affected but in most of the industrial sites they have been spared as they try to allow the companies to run.”

Zesa has intensified load shedding on the back of constrained generation at Kariba Hydro Power Station due to low water levels at Kariba Dam.

The Zimbabwe Power Company indicated on its website yesterday that the country was generating a combined 1 205 megawatts with Kariba, which is the major power plant, producing 683MW against an installed capacity of 1 050MW.

Asked if there was an arrangement that industry has made with Zesa, Mr Chigwada said: “Not that I know of. I think the industrial sites are part of load shedding. 

“We didn’t have any special arrangement as far as I know but I think they are just sensitive to the situation in industry . . . things are tough, we can’t have Zesa switching off power and we are very happy that they have managed to assist industry even during this difficult period.”

Over the years, intermittent power supplies have been one of the major challenges that have impacted negatively on capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector.

Capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector slid by 6,2 percentage points to 42 percent last year. 

Addressing participants during an exporters’ breakfast meeting organised by ZimTrade in Bulawayo last week, Mr Chigwada said at the moment industries were constrained by a host of challenges such as foreign currency shortages, obsolete equipment, and payment of Value Added Tax in foreign currency on some imported raw materials.

He said it was industry’s expectation that through the economic reforms being implemented by the Government, operational challenges facing the manufacturing sector would be addressed soon to facilitate growth of the sector.

“We believe that there is a need to speed up some of the reforms that are happening in the economy. We still have challenges of duplication especially where we have regulation and compliance issues. 

“If you take for example, the Factories Act and Local Authorities Act, when they come to inspect our factories, they are asking the same questions and you have to comply with all the requirements. We are saying those reforms that were started be speeded up so that we can take away these duplications,” said Mr Chigwada.

— @okazunga.