Zimbabwe seeking 30% power tariff increase or country faces interruptions

ELECTRICITY costs in Zimbabwe could increase by as much as 30% after the southern African country’s power utility, ZESA Holdings, applied to the energy regulator for a tariff lift, said Reuters citing The Herald, a newspaper.

Without the tariff increase, power supplies could be cut in Zimbabwe. “Generally, what suffers is maintenance which you experience as blackouts in your localities, lines collapsing because we can’t maintain them, we can’t maintain the switch gears, we can’t maintain transformers, and so on,” ZESA’s acting CEO, Patrick Chivaura was quoted as saying.

Uninterrupted power supplies are especially critical for Zimbabwe’s mining sector, which generates more than half of the southern African country’s export earnings, said Reuters. ZESA’s last application to raise prices by 49% in July 2016 was rejected by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) and the government, which feared it would further hurt a struggling economy, it said.

Zimbabwe has seen an increase in prices across the board after the central bank in February scrapped a 1:1 official peg to the U.S. dollar, and merged its bond notes and electronic dollars into a transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

On Monday, Zimbabwe was producing 1,604 megawatts of electricity from its coal-fired and hydro power plants against peak demand of 2,000 megawatts, according to ZESA.