BY JAMES MUONWA
Players in the hospitality sector say the rolling power cuts being experienced in the country have pushed up the cost of doing business and reduced Zimbabwe’s competitiveness in the region.
The sector requires uninterrupted electricity to power refrigerators, where perishable foodstuffs are stored, heating, lighting and powering steam cooking boilers, laundry equipment and various other appliances.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president Innocent Manyera yesterday lamented the persisting power cuts.
In some instances, hotels, lodges and restaurants go for up to between 10 and 12 hours without electricity, resultantly adversely affecting operations.
“Our industry players are being negatively affected by the Zesa (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) load-shedding. The adverse effects are being experienced as we rely heavily on electricity for the bulk of our operations.
“This has been worsened by the fact that fuel queues are still commonplace. The most affected under the tourism and hospitality sector is the hospitality sub-sector since it needs energy 24/7,” Manyera told NewsDay Business.
He said when power is switched-off, most players in the sector resort to diesel-powered generators and gas as energy sources, although their availability on the formal market remains a huge challenge.
“This has seen businesses buying fuel and gas on the parallel market, thereby increasing the cost of doing business. At the end of the day, we make huge losses, as we cannot afford to price ourselves out of business by continuously hiking tariffs and prices of goods and services,” the HAZ boss said.
Manyera, who is also CUT Hotel and Orange Grove Motel general manager, said his association was engaging relevant stakeholders to ensure Zimbabwe did not continue to lose potential visitors and tourists,
who may shun the destination due to power outages.
“We cannot afford to continue losing visitors and tourists. We’re consulting through relevant offices, to ensure Zimbabwe remains a destination of choice and continues on a positive growth trajectory on the ease of doing business, as we push towards Vision 2030 to make the country a middle-income economy.”
Power utility Zesa has attributed the load-shedding to reduced water levels at Kariba Dam, which has resulted in suppressed electricity generation capacity.