Power producers risk losing licences

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Vice-President Joice Mujuru on Wednesday took a swipe at the recently licensed independent power producers for their inaction at a time when the country is facing a power deficit.

Addressing delegates attending an International Business Conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Vice-President Mujuru said government had given the private sector an opportunity to participate in power generation.

National requirement for power stands at 2 200 megawatts while average generation is around 1 300 megawatts, leaving deficit of 900 megawatts.

“Regrettably none of the current players is producing any significant output, if they are producing at all. I urge local investors who can attract serious foreign investors to invite them and invest big in this sector,” said Mujuru.

“Demand for power is guaranteed regardless of the size of your plant, since the whole region needs more power.

“Specifically investors could consider Hwange 7 and 8 expansions, Kariba South or any other greenfield projects for that matter. I must however point out that as with energy sector the government is concerned that some companies are holding licences which they are not putting to good use. I urge the relevant issuing authority to review these and adopt the use it or lose it principle”.

The Energy and Power Development Ministry in February licensed three independent power producers in a move set to bring an end to the Zesa monopoly in the electricity sector by 2014.

Energy minister Elton Mangoma told Senate recently that his ministry wanted to make it easier for investors to come on board and look at other sources of energy to supplement electrical power.

“We want small independent power producers to come into play,” said Mangoma.

“We have licensed three big ones to ease pressure on electricity shortages by 2014.”

Vice-President Mujuru said key challenges that have been cited as discouraging investment and constraining growth in the country included inadequate power supply, inadequate transport infrastructure and poor air-service links.

She said for a speedy transformation of current challenges to business opportunities the government had adopted the public private sector approach to unleash accelerated infrastructure development in all facets of the economy.