Lights out threatens in Zimbabwe
Harare - Zimbabwe's energy minister warned on Monday the country risks losing electricity imports from its major supplier if it fails to pay a $90m debt to Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa dam.
"That is one debt that we have got to service because if we do not service it our major source of power will go away," Minister Elton Mangoma told a committee of lawmakers.
Mangoma said the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has piled up almost a billion dollars in unpaid electricity imports, unserviced loans and outstanding contributions to a joint power project with neighbour Zambia.
"At this stage with the cashflows of ZESA there is no possibility of re-paying them. We are not planning in the short-term to have them repaid but that treasury when they are looking at their debt management will be able to look at that."
He said ZESA owes about $800m of old loans, and $94m in electricity imports including about $90m to Hydro Cabora Bassa, the Mozambican hydroelectric dam that is its main supplier. It also owes $70m to Zambia.
Zimbabwe needs about 2 200MW of electricity at peak but generates just 1 300MW, importing the remainder.
Mangoma said is owed ZESA $400m in unpaid electricity bills by consumers, and announced plans to cut off defaulters.
ZESA plans to introduce pre-paid meters to improve its revenue and avoid resorting to charges based on estimates.
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.
Authorities also increased charges 31% last year to 9.83 cents per kilowatt hour.