HomeEditorialsBlackouts pose biggest challenge to economic recovery

Blackouts pose biggest challenge to economic recovery


IT’S no secret that our economy is under siege from a host of internal and external factors, a small percentage of which is beyond human control.

NewsDay Editorial

However, it is the internal factors such as incessant power cuts, policy discordance, political rhetoric and corruption that tend to militate against all efforts aimed at economic recovery more than the external forces.

The erratic power supplies that have been experienced over the past three weeks, if left unchecked, are sure to spell a death knell to the local industry and further push the economy down the drain.

Domestic consumers have also been caught in the crossfire and are now forced to adjust to unscheduled power cuts and run for hours on end without supplies from Zesa.

The current power shortages have raised the ire of consumers, who after paying heavily for electricity in prepaid tokens, find themselves digging deeper into their pockets to buy gas, paraffin, firewood and even the dangerous candles, to power their homes.

So, the power utility should not take offence when the consumers demand an explanation to the current power cuts.

In fact, the power utility should practice good corporate customer relations and take the initiative to keep its consumers aware of any developments affecting the sector.

Industry, regardless of whether large, medium or small-scale, formal or informal, has been the main victim, forcing many to switch to expensive power from standby generators.

By its very nature, power from diesel or petrol-powered generators is only supposed to be an interim or emergency measure, because if it’s allowed to run full term, it tends to erode all envisaged profits.

Relying on standby generators to run industry should not be accepted as the norm in a country striving to jumpstart an ailing economy, because of the energy source’s prohibitive costs.

But from the look of things, use of generators seems to have become a norm instead of an exception.

The excuse given by authorities in the energy sector that the current power shortages were due to plant maintenance work and diversion of some 200 or so megawatts to power winter wheat cropping is not convincing enough considering that most winter wheat is being or has already been harvested.

The only plausible explanation for the current power cuts is that the power utility was caught flat-footed after it failed to invest in alternative energy sources when it became clear that the demand for power would keep rising.

We should have been proactive and invested heavily in alternative energy sources such as solar, biogas, methane gas and wind, to cater for domestic consumption and dedicate the national grid to power the manufacturing and other high-energy consumer sectors.

Government should stop labouring us with energy policy documents that do not translate into workable programmes.

The Zanu PF government’s economic blueprint policy, ZimAsset, risks turning into another paper tiger if problems bedevilling the energy sector are not addressed urgently as they have a bearing on the envisaged economic turnaround strategies.

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