Seems the solar route is beginning to pick up momentum as power outages continue to visit the majority of Zimbabweans. Government has just approved a duty waiver on solar equipment. This is meant to promote the widespread importation and subsequent use of solar products. The other thrust shall be to also promote the production of solar hardware locally. This is overall meant to cultivate the increased use of solar energy as an alternative energy source. Essentially what this means is that duty waivers shall be used as a means to incentivise the importation of solar products.

These remarks were announced by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa. This was during the 25th Cabinet meeting held in Harare on the 16th of this month. She also indicated other interesting developments:

Hotels In Resort Areas To Pay Electricity In Foreign Currency

She said a resolution was reached to the effect that big hotels in resort areas should start paying for electricity in foreign currency. I won’t even get started with the fact that this directly contradicts the recently gazetted SI 142 of 2019 which stipulates that foreign currency is no longer legal tender locally. The minister highlighted that the move is meant to enhance the nation’s capacity to import more power. I also find this problematic because this is placing focus on a solution that’s not sustainable. Why focus on importing when we can increase our capacity to generate our power. She also highlighted that the move is meant to ignite and build-up the solar power alternative. Though there’s logic in that big hotels are central to forex inflows it’s tricky in that they are violating a law they put in place.

Remote Tracking System By ZERA

The incidence of fuel stations refusing to accept electronic payments has remained high. It has also become increasingly the norm for fuel stations to sell fuel on the black market. Many can relate to incidences where preferential treatment has been exercised at fuel stations. These are just some of the unscrupulous activities occurring at fuel stations. The minister pointed out that fuel stations engaged in any such forms of corruption or unfair business practice risk having their operating licenses revoked. She stated that an inspectorate from ZERA shall comb through fuel stations to bring culprits to book. In a bid to curtail some of these challenges the government has empowered the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) to monitor fuel movement. In due course, the finer details of how this will be done shall be announced as indicated by the minister.

Cost Recovery Electricity Tariff For Mining Companies

Mining companies have expressed their commitment to pay a cost recovery tariff to ZESA. This has been arranged through the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines and government gladly approved. Government has also given a green light that mining companies can now get additional power from Southern African Power Pool. This will now be done directly by the mining companies. The main thrusts of all these are to address two main things for power issues in the mining sector. Firstly, it’s meant to increase capacity for power importation and secondly, it’s meant to increase mining companies’ capacity to clear power debts.

Energy Minister, Advocate Fortune Chasi’s Remarks During The Meeting

The minister appreciated the fact that not all players are engaged in malpractices. Rather he said that it’s only some rogue elements that are doing these illegal activities at fuel stations. He warned that some heads will roll in certain places if people don’t desist from illegal activities. He emphasised the importance of fuel operators to do business in the best interests of the people. He also said that there shall be compliance frameworks that shall be incorporated into working agreements fuel importers shall enter with their respective dealers. He also mentioned that the USD10 million payment made to Eskom is not automatically going to solve the power crisis but rather will serve as a pedestal for further talks with Eskom.

So those are some of the developments happening locally in the energy sector. We still have a long to go and it’s my sincere hope that the energy crisis shall be at least watered down soon. However, a lot more needs to be done to achieve any sort of alleviation of the problem.