Zimbabwe power debt down

2012-07-12 22:16
An electricity pylon is pictured. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

An electricity pylon is pictured. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

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Harare - Energy-starved Zimbabwe has cut its debt to power providers to under US$20m from around $100m in a bid to resume imports after major regional suppliers cut it off, the energy minister said on Thursday.

"We have currently made strides to pay the debt we owed and our total debt has now been reduced to below $20m from nearly a $100m," Energy Minister Elton Mangoma told parliament.

He said talks have begun with neighbours Mozambique and Zambia to get "a little bit more" electricity after reducing the debt.

In recent months, Zimbabwe could only afford to import 25MW from neighbouring countries after major electricity suppliers in the region cut off supplies for non-payment.

Zimbabwe needs about 2 200MW of electricity at peak consumption but generates just below 1 300MW.

"Zimbabwe used to import as much as 500MW from SNEL in DRC, EDM and HCB in Mozambique and ZESCO in Zambia," he said adding the average quantity had came down to 100MW.

"Because we were not paying, even that 100MW has been reduced to 25MW."

Mangoma said the country is working on refurbishing its northern Kariba hydro-power station and the Hwange thermal power station in the west of the country to boost generation capacity.

The minister said earlier this year that the power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is owed $400m in unpaid electricity bills by consumers.

Authorities also increased energy charges last year by 31% to 9.83 cents per kilowatt hour.

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