It’s worth noting that in the recent weeks efforts have really been stepped up to deal with the power crisis. So many developments have occurred in the energy industry lately. We recently saw the hiking of electricity tariffs across the board. We have also seen the government reaching a working agreement with Eskom which has actually improved power availability in some areas. The government has also indicated that they’re starting negotiations with Hydro Caborra Basa (HCB) in order to unlock more power imports. The government has also highlighted that they shall be going after independent power producers (IPPs) that haven’t done anything since being licensed. All this shows that concerted efforts are being made in trying to ensure the local power situation improves. Results may take a while to show of course. To take matters even further ZESA has just come up with a bizarre framework that’s meant to reduce electricity consumption.

ZESA’s Latest Statement

ZESA has just issued a statement which has to do with stepping domestic power usage. The statement reads as follows:

“In line with the recently approved electricity tariffs for 2019, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) would like to advise its valued customers that it has now started implementing the stepped pre-payment tariff for domestic consumers to replace the flat rate tariff of 14c/kWh which was previously used for domestic customers. The flat-rate tariff afforded consumers of electricity a standard tariff for purchases despite the kWh purchased and the number of times customers bought electricity in the month and was thus wasteful and expensive for low power users. ZESA believes this tariff structure will help curb wasteful energy use. Implementation of the stepped domestic pre-payment tariff is designed to encourage consumers to conserve electricity in the face of the current power supply situation.”

An Interpretation Of The Statement

Basically, this move by ZESA seeks to punish those who use electricity “excessively”. The stepped pre-payment tariff framework is already in motion because it was effective the beginning of August. Let me put it in very simple and easy to understand terms. If you use little electricity you’ll pay low tariffs whereas if you use a lot of electricity you’ll pay much higher tariffs. So ZESA is encouraging that you purchase electricity that you know will be sufficient for a full month. Any subsequent purchase made after exhausting that monthly amount will be charged at much higher tariffs. I’m sure you’re probably wondering how then you will know which quantity to buy for a full month. ZESA Public Relations Manager, Mr Fullard Gwasira shed light on this.

For every month you’re allowed to purchase your first 50kWh at a rate of $0.06 i.e. $6. This amount of power is sufficient to cater for 2-plate stove and 5 lights for a single household. He indicated that this tariff at point of first purchase every month is a lifeline tariff. It’s meant to cushion consumers who have financial challenges. The next 150kWh (i.e. 51kWh to 200kWh) will then be charged at $0.30 i.e. $30 – this will be in the same month. Mr Gwasira pointed out that 250kWh is enough for most domestic households. Anything beyond 200kWh in the same month will be charged at a much higher rate of $0.40 i.e. $40. Earlier I mentioned the lifeline tariff. You must understand that when you make subsequent purchases within the same month you would have used up your lifeline benefits for that month. Obviously, not all customers will easily comprehend this whole framework. So, for the convenience of customers, prepayment vouchers will include a breakdown of how the units purchased are charged plus the bands to which they belong.

So this is yet another addition to the measures the government is putting in place to address the power crisis. This measure is mainly focused on reducing electricity consumption. This is in light of the current power shortages presently affecting the country. In the beginning, I highlighted some of the measures that are already in motion. To add onto that switching off defaulters also started whilst the energy minister indicated that government departments are now being metered.