Parly demands govt action on power crisis

Power to the people


PARLIAMENTARIANS have demanded that the Ministry of Energy and Power Development should urgently deal with the ongoing power crisis crippling business and domestic consumers.

This comes as the ministry has since 2017 failed to launch the renewable energy policy (REP) with the potential to generate
1 872 megawatts (MW).

Zimbabwe currently produces on average 600MW while demand ranges from 1 800MW to 2 000MW.

“For the past months, we did not have any electricity. So I want to know what plans the government has for the past nine months or there is nothing because the Minister of Energy and Power Development does not have electricity and is not here as well,” asked Glen Norah MP Wellington Chikombo during a Parliament sitting on Wednesday.

Energy and Power Development deputy minister Magna Mudyiwa admitted that local electricity generation was low and that the country was essentially relying on power imports from mostly Mozambique and South Africa.

“We have a renewable energy policy as government that is going to be launched very soon and we are encouraging the use of renewable energy. As government, again we have ongoing projects at Hwange Thermal Power Station, that is Units 7 and 8 Extension. It is being constructed right now and we believe that the first unit will be operational next year in 2021 and the other one in 2022,” she said.

“We will be getting 600MW in addition to the supply that we already have and on top of that, we are also encouraging independent power producers (IPP) who want to construct mini-hydro power stations in all our dams. We are encouraging that all the dams that can generate hydro power should be utilised and IPPs should engage in that.”

Chikombo then pointed out that the problem was that government continues to craft plans rather than implementing solutions.

Bulawayo Metropolitan Member of Parliament Jasmine Toffa asked: “What is her ministry doing to make sure that it is possible and there is ease of doing business with regards to acquiring or importing solar equipment or resources?”

“Mr Speaker Sir, currently there is duty on batteries, on cables and there are very high rates when you want to acquire a licence for a solar plant. How is the ministry assisting or encouraging people, when there are such hurdles in the way?”

In her response, Mudyiwa revealed that government was being delayed in making investment and the ease of doing business more conducive because of the delayed REP.

On the licencing issue, she said the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority was taking more than six months to process solar licences but that they were working on reducing the period to a month.

“I think I mentioned about the duty that we have advocated with the Ministry of Finance that some of the equipment that we need for solar plants is brought in duty-free. I cannot specify which equipment exactly, but I remember the lithium batteries which are specifically meant for solar energy,” Mudyiwa said.