Mozambique denies cutting Zimbabwe off

2012-03-15 20:11

Harare - Mozambique's Cahora Bassa dam on Thursday denied cutting power to Zimbabwe, which had claimed the state-owned company had pulled the plug over unpaid bills totalling around $75m.

"Hydro Cahora Bassa switched off supplies to Zimbabwe on Thursday or Friday last week over the money owed which is around $75m or $76m," Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma told AFP.

"We are now switching off defaulters as part of efforts to raise the money," he said.

But the Cahora Bassa dam, which supplies nearly a fifth of the power it produces to Zimbabwe, said this was not the case.

"We would like to inform you that we have not cut electricity to Zimbabwe. That information is misinformed," Rosaque Guale, a board member of the state-owned Cahora Bassa Hydropower Company told AFP.

Several suburbs of the capital Harare have gone for days without electricity, while other places suffer up to 10 hours of power cuts, as the utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) comes under pressure to save power.

Zimbabwe needs 2 200MW of electricity at peak but generates just 1 300MW and imports the remainder, including 100 to 185MW from Hydro Cahora Bassa.

The dam produces 2 075MW of energy a year. South Africa buys 65%t, while Zimbabwe gets a 19% share.

Last month, Mangoma warned a parliamentary committee that Zimbabwe risked being cut off if it failed to settle its debt with Hydro.

He said ZESA had accumulated almost a billion dollars in unpaid electricity imports, unserviced loans and outstanding contributions to a joint power project with neighbouring Zambia.

The firm also plans to introduce pre-paid meters to improve its revenue collection.

Last year ZESA announced it would hand out more than 5.5 million power-saving fluorescent light bulbs to households across the country to curb consumption.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mozambique  |  zimbabwe  |  energy
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