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Power Outage Possibly Imminent if Zimbabwe Doesn't Pay Bill

Zimbabwe, which has not had power cuts for the past one and half years, might experience massive load shedding by May 31 if it fails to settle its power import bill with Mozambican and South African power utilities.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings chief executive Josh Chifamba said on Tuesday that the company failed to pay $US43 million it owed South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) due to foreign currency shortages.

The US$43 million is coming from a payment plan that ZESA struck with the two regional power utilities early this year. According to the plan, ZESA should have paid 89 million dollars between January and April but only managed to pay 46 million dollars.

HCB and Eskom gave ZESA up to May 31, 2017 to pay up the debt failure of which the two utilities would cut off power supplies. Overall, ZESA owes Eskom 80 million dollars and 40 million dollars to HCB.

Eskom supplies Zimbabwe with 300 MW while HCB provides 50 MW. Zimbabwe requires 1,400 MW daily but is able to produce around 980 MW due to aged power plants.

Chifamba said ZESA was making frantic efforts to secure the money to clear the debt. “We have been having meetings with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to find ways of coming out of this. Hopefully this week something will come up because everyone knows the effects of failing to pay.”

Zimbabwe has engaged China’s Sinohydro to expand Kariba South Power plant by 300 MW. The first 150 MW unit of the expansion project is expected to come on stream by December and the other 150 MW unit by the first quarter of next year.

ZESA says the additional 300MW from Kariba would go a long way in helping the power utility to meet national demand.

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