Electricity has been largely available for the most part across the country. There are of course some areas that are still subject to load shedding but it seems as if it is not as intense as before. It has been quite a while since ZESA tariffs were hiked. The last hike was effective the 1st of October 2020 then later they introduced a new band. The new band (301 – 400 units) became effective late November 2020. From that time to date the tariffs have remained the same. It reported, however, that ZESA recently revealed that it intends to hike tariffs by 25 per cent.
Presently, the stepped ZERA tariffs are as follows:
|0 – 50||1.63||81.50|
|51 – 100||3.27||163.50|
|101 – 200||5.72||572|
|201 – 300||8.17||817|
|301 – 400||9.39||939|
Energy Minister, Zhemu Soda’s Recent Remarks
“As you might be aware, we are importing power from outside the country especially during peak hours and more so during this time of the year in winter. Our power is imported at as high as US$0.24 per kilowatt-hour whereas we are selling that power from ZWL for $7.67 per kilowatt-hour. For us to achieve what we are envisioning to provide adequate power and sustainable electricity, there is a need for tariffs to be reviewed.”
Other Recent ZESA Developments
ZESA recently did some maintenance work on its electricity vending system. This exercise ran from the 20th to the 21st of May; ZESA highlighted that this was meant to provide a reliably functional system.
In April, there was a power outage in Bulawayo due to a fault. The power outage affected the Bulawayo city centre and other residential areas which negatively affected the smooth flow of businesses. In March also there was a similar incident that affected the city centre and other residential areas. Cases of faults have been rampant throughout the country.
There were also a series of arrests recently involving senior management from ZESA. A senior engineer in Kwekwe was arrested for allowing power connections to companies without following proper protocol. There were also 3 senior ZETDC managers (Southern Region) that were arrested for criminal abuse of office.
All these cases were the culmination of work by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC). It goes to show that ZACC has been doing some substantial work in fighting corruption.
Evaluating The Coming Tariffs Hike
Is the tariffs hike justified or not? Well, from a financial point of view, it is justified. The truth is the current tariffs are far removed from the actual cost of procuring or producing electricity. The only reason why the tariffs can be considered steep would be because most people have low incomes. Otherwise, under normal circumstances, the current tariffs are quite affordable. At least hiking the tariffs helps in bringing in financial soundness in the running of ZETDC and ZESA. When you look at how long some of the faults take to be addressed you realize there is a problem. The root cause, despite other variables, is inadequate cash flow.
Be that as it may, I still strongly feel that renewable energy must be taken more seriously. It is good to notice that more and more people are going for solar but we still have a long way to go. We are still to see serious activity in electricity generation for mass usage using solar energy. We are still to see the emergence of solar farms; something which is long overdue. Solar energy alone can cater for Zimbabwe’s power needs. We can even get to export residual power generated from solar energy. In the long run that is a more robust solution to the power situation in Zimbabwe.
As always let me remind you that there no need to jostle to purchase electricity on the 1st of the month. It is not about the 1st of the month per se but all that matters is whether or not your purchase, for say 200 units, is the first for a particular month. This means you can purchase your first 200 units on any day of that month and they will be cheaper. It also means you can purchase the first 200 units in separate batches e.g. 100 units, 50 units, then 50 units. So long it is the first 200 units in that month, they will be cheaper. You must also bear in mind that electricity consumption does not vary according to the time of the day. Using the stove consumes the same power regardless of the time of the day. Too many myths out there that people tend to share; be wise.