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Power Utility's Prepaid Meter Confusion Sparks Public Anger
WASHINGTON DC — Some Bulawayo and Harare residents say they are confused by
the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority’s pre-paid meter billing system.
They fear they are being overcharged by the state entity, which is
struggling to settle a $500 million debt.
A number of consumers told VOA Studio 7 that the billing system is so
complicated that it is difficult to know how much electricity they are
buying. As a result, some have stopped cooking traditional foods that need a
lot of time to prepare, as they cannot be sure they will have exhausted
their pre-paid units before they’ve finished cooking.
One area of confusion is the basic cost of a unit of electricity.According
to ZESA, pre-paid meter users pay 2 cents per unit for the first 50
kilowatts while those who consume between 51 and 300 kilowatts are charged
11 cents per unit. Anything above 300 kilowatts attracts a charge of 15
cents per unit. The flat ZESA tariff is being replaced nationwide by the
prepaid meter system.
But Ambrose Sibindi of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association said
some residents recently spent $30 to obtain 292 units, but others received
only 190 units for the same amount.
Mr. Sibindi said he has received many complaints about this and other areas
Harare Ward 13 councillor Peter Moyo said the problems may be linked to ZESA’s
attempts to recover debts from residents.
The $500 million ZESA debt accrued due to a decade-long economic downturn
which eased after the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009.
Energy Minister Elton Mangoma said ZESA and the government are aware of
ZESA Tariffs January - December 2013
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ZESA 2013 Winter Wheat Power Supply Preparedness Report
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Zesa pre-paid meters spark outrage
March 3 2013
BULAWAYO; The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) pre-paid metre billing system has drawn the ire of Bulawayo residents who are accusing the power utility of cheating them of their hard earned money.
Zesa introduced the pre-paid meter system last year replacing the loader meters and the exercise is still to cover other areas. Yesterday residents said Zesa’s billing system has seen those who exceed 50 kilowatt hours a month having to spend 10 times more when they need more electricity for the remainder of the month.
“How are we expected to make ends meet when they are charging us exorbitantly like this,” said a resident from Coronation Cottages in North End.
She said the power utility’s billing system was deliberately complicated to cheat unsuspecting consumers. “When I first bought electricity I got 292 units for $30, when I bought again with the same amount, they gave me 190 units. This is day light robbery because how can the same amount give me lesser and lesser units,” said the resident, who is a pensioner.
“Zesa needs to be investigated so that their cheating is put to an end,” she said.
Another resident from Luveve suburb said he did not understand the whole billing system by Zesa.
“When I complained that they had actually charged me more than the same units last time I bought electricity last week they told me that the more I consume electricity the more I have to pay,” said the resident who is a teacher.
He said the stance taken by Zesa was unfair.
“They are taking advantage of the already vulnerable citizens. As it stands people are already struggling with other obligations such as school fees and yet they sell us electricity at this absurd rates,” said the resident.
Another resident from Mahatshula said there was a need for Zesa to review its tariffs.
“If there was a way of going back to the old system, it could be better, because this new metre system is proving to be more expensive,” said the resident.
He said the old system had no provisions that disadvantaged consumers such as the new system.
Another consumer complained that apart from the high tariffs, Zesa was also deducting more than 20 percent from amounts they pay to settle outstanding debts. “We are being simply being overcharged and we don’t understand these flimsy excuses they are feeding us,” said a Queens Park East resident.
The first 50-kilowatt hours are billed at two cents per unit while those who consume between 51 and 300 kilowatts are charged at 11 cents per unit. Those who exceed the 300 units are charged at a higher charge of 15 cents per unit. This has seen some consumers who slipped into the 51 kilowatts range complaining that the recently introduced prepaid meter system by Zesa was a way of cheating them as their units got used up quickly.
Contacted for comment Zesa Holdings spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said tariffs for pre-paid meter users had not been increased, but consumers would witness a corresponding rise in electricity payments if they consumed more energy.
“The pre-paid metre system is not like the juice (airtime) card one for phones. This system is consumption sensitive in the sense that the more power you use, the more you should pay,” said Mr Gwasira.
He said this was because they wanted residents to adopt a culture of saving power.
“We want to enforce behaviour change, this system recognises how much electricity one uses and if people do not change their behaviour towards saving energy then they would always complain that we are overcharging them,” said Mr Gwasira.
The Zimbabwe Energy Authority, however, only gave the power utility the green light to increase average tariffs from 9,83c kilowatt per hour to 9,86c.
Zimbabwe/Zambia electricty debt
by Rebecca Moyo
ZESA Holdings says the creation of a sinking fund with a local bank would
enable Zimbabwe clear its US$70,8 million debt owed to Zambia after the
creation of a sinking fund with a local bank.
Giving an update on operations before the Parliamentary Committee of State
Enterprises and Parastatals today, Zesa chief executive Engineer Joshua
Chifamba said Zesa had made progress on the old debt owed to its northern
neighbours clearing the way for work on the Batoka electricity project to
“Zesa has paid US$20 million after the creation of a sinking fund with a
local bank and should have paid an additional US$20 million by the end of
March this year,” he said.
“The amount should be cleared by the end of March next year with work on the
project expected to begin within 18 months as expressions of interest had
been advertised,” he said.
Batoka is situated 50kms downstream of Victoria Falls and would provide 800
MW of hydro power generation capacity for each of the two countries (1 600MW
Zambia said they would not partner Zimbabwe until the asset debt accrued
during the Federation-era was cleared. The principal amount owing was
US$70,8 million but there was also an interest charge of US$115 million
which has been accruing since dissolution. Interest is being charged at 5,2
million per annum.
The debt also includes proceeds of the sale of assets belonging to former
Central African Power Corporation disbanded in 1987, where Zimbabwe
reportedly benefited more. CAPCO was running the Kariba power project for
the two countries during Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland era.
He said the amount owed to Zesa Holdings by customers has ballooned to
US$730 million since dollarisation of the economy in 2009. Chifamba said.
huge corporates were the biggest debtors, accounting for nearly a third of
“The money we are owed has risen to US$730 million and of the total amount,
domestic consumers owe us US$261 million,” said Chifamba. “This puts us in a
very tight position (in terms of viability).”
Zesa embarked on a rollout programme of prepaid meters last year in a bid to
improve revenue inflows, but this is moving at a much slower pace than
anticipated due to funding problems. By last month, Zesa had installed only
55 000 prepaid meters in domestic premises countrywide since August last
year against a target of 600 000 households.
Expansion of power station hits a snag
BY RAY NDLOVU, JANUARY 15 2013, 10:04 | 0 COMMENT(S)
A MULTIMILLION-dollar deal between Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and
Chinese-owned SinoHydro for the expansion of Kariba South power station has
been delayed amid indications the deal document breached procurement
The delay will affect work on the expansion of the power station, which was
expected to increase power generation by 300MW. The state procurement board
was now likely to investigate, energy officials said on Monday.
At issue is the concern of SinoHydro about changes to the deal document,
including an increase from the initial $355m quote to $390m, for
"contingencies", seemingly added by ZPC without consultation. Power
regulations stipulate that ZPC must first seek authorisation from the state
procurement board for any price changes.
"The actual contract was for $355m, but the total price that we signed the
contract for was $390m, including contingencies," said Wu Yifeng, at
SinoHydro Zimbabwe. "It is the final price that was approved that concerns
us. We did not include the contingencies."
Energy Minister Elton Mangoma said his office was not yet privy to the
"irregularities", but advised that delays would increase the costs.
Power tender sparks furore
Friday, 04 January 2013 00:00
Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
THE signing of a contract between Zimbabwe Power Company and SinoHydro, the
winning bidder for the expansion of Kariba South Power Station, has sparked
a furore amid indications that the deal breached procurement regulations.
This could delay the expansion of the power station that was expected to
increase power generation by 300 Megawatts as the State Procurement Board
might be forced to investigate the matter, sources said yesterday.
The SPB recently awarded SinoHydro of China — a sole bidder for the
project — the tender for engineering, procurement and construction of the
Kariba South Power Station expansion project.
This was after the firm tendered a bid for about US$368 million, which was
reduced to US$355 million after Government resolved to scrap excise duty for
the importation of equipment.
However, ZPC signed a contract with the Chinese firm last month for US$390
million, without consulting the SPB on the new changes.
SinoHydro representative in Zimbabwe, Mr Wu Yifeng, yesterday confirmed
there had been a variation to the original price.
“The actual contract was for US$355 million, but the total price that we
signed the contract for was US$390 million, including contingencies,” said
He said there was nothing wrong with the variation because both SinoHydro
and ZPC had approved it.
“It is the final price that was approved by both sides. ZPC put variations
for the contingencies. We did not include the contingencies in our bid
because they had not requested for it,” he said.
He said the contingencies were to be agreed upon during contract
However, a well-placed source said this was in breach of the procurement
“Section 26 of the procurement regulations states that in the event of any
variations, it should be approved by the SPB. Contingencies should be
sanctioned by the SPB but in this case they (ZPC) sanctioned it on their
own. Besides, the bidder should have indicated their contingencies in their
“This is a breach of the procurement regulations because the ZPC usurped the
powers of the SPB. We will obviously act to address that anomaly because
laws are laws,” said the source.
Efforts to get a comment from ZPC managing director Mr Noah Gwariro were
Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma yesterday said he had
not yet received communication from the SPB on the latest developments.
“I have not received any correspondence from the State Procurement Board if
they have any concerns with regards to that. At this stage I am not aware of
any additional issues to be sorted out.
“But let me say contracts for such big projects require an understanding of
issues that are different. Timing comes into play because delay or fast
tracking of the project will result in prices either going up or down,” said
He said Government set conditions for the contract in the implementation of
“We have told them that we don’t want them to blast into the rock like they
were doing on the Zambian side (Kariba North). We don’t want to weaken the
foundation of the dam wall. The geology of the rock on the Southern side is
different to the geology on the Northern side. We have agreed that they
should not blast because the rock here is softer compared to the Zambian
side,” said Minister Mangoma.
SPB chairman Mr Charles Kuwaza said his office was yet to receive
communication on the latest development.
Mr Yifeng said the project that is expected to take four years, would start
as soon as the Export-Import Bank of China, the financers of the project,
release the money.
This, he said, would be expedited if the Zimbabwean Government settled its
US$27 million debt to the bank.
“The Ministry of Finance has already requested ZPC to pay the money, but
they have a challenge in raising that money.
“They, however, agreed to talk to our head office in China to see if
SinoHydro can help for the project to start soon,” said Mr Yifeng.
ZESA restructures tariffs as energy concerns remain high
By Alex Bell
04 January 2013
National power authority ZESA has restructured its tariffs, as concern about
the country’s energy problems remains high.
ZESA subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution
Company (ZETDC), has reduced electricity tariffs for prepaid users and
businesses. The company announced on Monday that the new tariffs would come
into effect this week.
The new tariff structures will now see prepaid users getting their first 50
kilowatts per hour for “free” while business will enjoy a 20% reduction for
the first 50 units used, which would be charged at $0,02 per unit instead of
the normal $0,09.
Regular power users meanwhile are facing a 0.3% increase on their tariffs.
The tariff changes come just days after the Harare Power Station was shut
down on Sunday because of low coal stocks. Other power stations like Hwange
Thermal, Munyati, Bulawayo and Kariba Hydro, are all currently operating
below capacity due to ongoing maintenance and modernisation works.
Precious Shumba from the Harare Residents’ Trust told SW Radio Africa on
Friday that ZESA’s top priority in 2013 should be the provision of a better
service for its consumers. He said that energy problems are now widely
expected among the public, but people had hope ZESA would start
communicating properly to warn people what to expect.
“The expectation now from the public is for ZESA to deal with issues of
corruption and accurate billing. And to stop cutting off supplies to people
who have inaccurate estimated bills. Basically, we are expecting a better
service and better communication from the power authority,” Shumba said.
Zesa pre-paid metering no magic bullet
January 4, 2013 in News
AFTER many years of persistently crying foul for being ripped off by Zesa’s
estimation-based billing system, many residents countrywide have finally
heaved a sigh of relief after the power utility’s on-going installation of
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
Zesa had for years been short-changing hard-pressed consumers by sending
them estimated bills resulting in residents paying inflated bills despite
intermittent power cuts that occasionally stretched for days or weeks in
Consumers also complained Zesa bills were frequently late, making it
difficult to budget for power consumption.
Last year the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company
(ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, embarked on wholesale replacement of
all conventional post-paid meters with pre-paid meters.
The project involves the migration of about 600 000 domestic and small
business customers from credit metering to pre-paid or “smart metering” over
a 10- month period.
As of December 2012, about 23 000 meters had been installed in Harare and
The new meters have been installed in the Avenues area, Mabelreign, the new
Willowvale Flats in Highfield and Belvedere, while in Bulawayo they have
been installed in Emganwini, Paddonhurst and Mahatshula.
Other areas earmarked for deployment of pre-paid meters are Chitungwiza,
Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Kadoma and Marondera.
Residents have widely applauded the project, saying they are relieved to
have the freedom to manage their electricity bills by paying for actual
ZETDC commercial director Enock Ncube said the initiative has given the
utility the capacity to deliver on its main role of facilitating the
improvement of availability of electricity to the populace, as well as the
attainment of self-sufficiency in electricity generation.
Ncube said: “The utility is a key enabler of the country’s economic recovery
under the new Medium Term Policy, and as such introduction of pre-payment
meters to customers is one of the key pillars to achieve business excellence
and turn around service delivery in the short and long-term.”
According to Zesa officials, the pre-paid tariff is lower than the metered
tariff as it eliminates meter reading, billing and postage costs.
The officials added that electricity debt on the post-paid account would be
transferred to the new pre-paid account, meaning 20% of pre-paid electricity
purchase would go towards clearing the consumer’s debt.
Although the pre-paid meters have proved popular with residents who can now
budget how much they want to spend on electricity, there are fears
installation of the meters does not address the problem of cost since Zesa
still owes millions of US dollars in power imports, or the availability of
power in the country. Zesa produces about 1 200MW of electricity against a
national demand of 2 200MW.
Installation of pre-paid meters may also result in poor households and
essential service providers such as clinics and hospitals finding themselves
without power after failing to buy electricity since the meters have turned
power into a cash commodity.
Most essential service providers depend on government and donor funding,
meaning they can only settle their bills after funding has been secured. The
pre-paid meter system does not make an allowance for most essential services
being plunged into darkness for far longer periods compared to the power
cuts era as electricity would only be restored after topping up.
Electricity tariffs are likely to go up due to the wholesale installation of
pre-paid meters given that power has to be purchased from the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Mozambique, analysts said.
“It appears as though government has decided to pass on the cost (of power
imports) to the user without democratically explaining affordability of the
important energy source for many urban households and industries,” said an
analyst who requested anonymity.
“It’s a decision to privatise electricity to allow Zesa to pass on the cost
to the consumer at unreasonable rates, while at the same time claiming to be
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo
applauded the pre-paid system for doing away with the discredited estimate
“The relief that came with that project is that it has dealt with the
problem of estimate billing,” said Fayayo. “However, electricity will now be
turned into a commercial service rather than a basic right. If you don’t
have money then you don’t have electricity. In Bulawayo, there are many
residents who are elderly and child-headed households which cannot afford to
buy electricity. What happens to them? What is Zesa’s plan for them? I think
Zesa did not fully prepare for this initiative and had selfish reasons.”
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said
although her organisation was at the forefront of pushing for pre-paid
meters, it was yet to do a proper assessment of Zesa’s initiatives from a
“We have not done an assessment yet of the progress so far over the pre-paid
meters from a consumer point of view,” Siyachitema said. “This is something
we plan to do mid-year.”
Govt to unbundle ZESA
Friday, 07 December 2012 11:46
GOVERNMENT is this month expected to unbundle ZESA Holdings into three
separate entities, The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets can report.
The move is meant to clean up a huge debt on the power utility's balance
sheet and create a level playing field for independent power producers to
help meet electricity demand.
Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma (pictured) confirmed the
unbundling on Monday, saying the new structure would see the creation of
National Grid Services Company (NGSC) responsible for the transmission of
power, marketing and systems operations.
NGSC will inherit all of ZESA ‘legacy' debts and will be 100 per cent
He said the other two companies would be the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC),
already a subsidiary of ZESA responsible for electricity generation, and the
Zimbabwe Distribution Company taking charge of the distribution of
"The new structure will see the creation of a new company NGSC, ZPC and
Zimbabwe Distribution Company. These companies will be on a flat level.
There will be no more ZESA Holdings.
"ZESA has what we call a huge ‘legacy' debt. Each of the separate units has
got some debt. In total, ZESA has a debt of over US$400 million. These debts
were incurred long before ZESA was first unbundled in 2002.
"If we are going into projects with these debts, potential investors will
look at the balance sheet and say this company is not good. So we want to
have a safe way of dealing with that debt.
"By end of this December, we will be able to show a ZPC balance sheet which
is clean. If it is clean we can now do business, which is our intention,"
The Minister also said it was important to set up a mechanism which would
create a level playing field for independent power producers.
"We are now going to have independent power producers in the market so it's
important that we create a level playing field.
Mangoma added that the country's electricity law would be amended next year
to enable the transfer of ‘legacy' debt.
"The transfer of the legacy debt requires the current law to be amended so
that if we are going to have any challenge from any creditor, it will be
covered in the law. But the change of the shareholding does not require the
law," said Mangoma.
Mangoma said workers at the power utility should not panic as their future
"There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety at the moment," said Mangoma.
"They (workers) are unsure whether they have a job or their posts will
disappear in the new structure. There is always this fear of losing jobs
when a restructuring exercise of this magnitude is taking place. This
exercise does not however necessarily mean that the changes we are bringing
are going to see people losing their jobs.
"The formation of NGSC requires a lot of personnel so a lot are going there.
More importantly ZPC is going to do a lot of projects. Already there is the
expansion of Kariba and Hwange Power stations, Gairezi, solar plant and we
are pursuing the Lupane gas project. All this increased activities require
"But, truly there is going to be some changes for those who were sitting at
ZESA Holdings and thinking they were above everyone else. They have to come
to the party and be equal to others.
Minister Mangoma however, could not be drawn into discussing the fate of
group chief executive officer, Josh Chifamba.
"We have already spoken to him and he fully knows and understands what is
going to happen to him. I cannot reveal that now," said Mangoma.
Massive power outage hits Bulawayo
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 November 2012
One of the worst blackouts to hit Bulawayo this year left most of the city
without power for more than 20 hours from Sunday evening to Monday
The Central Business District, as well as most the eastern and western
suburbs were all affected. It is unclear why the supply was so severely
interrupted but reports say torrential rains that fell in the city over the
weekend may have caused the blackout.
Our correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, told us the power cut happened at
around 6pm on Sunday and power was restored to some areas by 2pm on Monday.
Power cuts are now a common occurrence in Bulawayo because of a fundamental
shortage of power and an ageing grid. The chaos caused by such cuts has led
to protests against the power utility company, ZESA.
‘The blackouts are becoming more frequent typically because of government’s
lack of investment in the energy infrastructures, and which are also prone
to serious weather. This latest power cut completely shut down production at
companies and critical infrastructures such as telecommunication networks,
financial services, water supplies and hospitals,’ Saungweme said.
He said authorities were working to restore service to some areas that still
had no power, adding that there are fears the power blackouts will become
more frequent, owing to the lack of incentives to invest in national grid
Saungweme said the widespread power outages seriously disrupted business and
industrial activities which adversely affected productivity.
He said, ‘It also caused disruptions and inconveniences to residents. In
addition, such failure to provide a reliable service clearly has negative
consequences for business confidence of both domestic and foreign investors,
which in turn impacts on the country’s economic growth targets.’
Patson Mbiriri, the secretary for energy and power development, told an
annual congress of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in July this
year that energy-starved Zimbabwe will suffer longer and more frequent power
shortages for the next 10 years.
Zimbabwe needs about 2 200MW of electricity at peak consumption, but
generates just below 1 300MW while relying on imports to fill the gap.
Mbiriri said the country will only be able to generate enough power for
domestic and industrial power by 2022.
Zimbabwe set for massive power blackouts
on November 26, 2012 at 2:18 am
By Myleen Sibanda | Nehanda Business |
Zimbabweans are set to endure a miserable festive season of blackouts after
the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) announced a massive load
shedding programme starting this Monday until the beginning of next year.
In an emergency Power Supply Update released over the weekend, Zesa
spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, said the power cuts would be necessitated
by an extensive maintenance programme at Hwange and Kariba power stations.
“There will be an increase in load-shedding outside the publicised schedules
from Monday 26 November due to a maintenance exercise at Unit 2 of Kariba
Power Station,” he said. This be completed within a period of 18 days.
Gwasira said “The power supply situation will be compounded by Unit 3 of
Kariba Power Station that will be taken out on 15 December 2012 for a period
of six weeks for further technical repairs.”
“Thereafter, the remaining units 1, 4, 5 and 6 will be out one by one at a
time for a six-week period each for further technical repairs.” Gwasira said
more maintenance work would also be done at Hwange Power Station.
“Unit 1 of Hwange Power Station will be taken out on 7 December 2012 for a
20-day maintenance period,” he said. Gwasira urged consumers to use the
available power sparingly to minimise the effects of load-shedding.
So why have they picked the festive season?
The original plan was to carry out maintenance between April and May, but
Gwasira said they realised it was the winter peak period and so they
postponed to December when demand is low after most companies close for the
Mini-hydro power station changes lives
November 11, 2012 in Community News
MUTARE SOUTH — Access to modern and cheap energy remains a pipe dream for
most families in the rural areas across the country.
REPORT BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
But that is now a problem of the past for the rural community of Chipendeke
in Mutare South, which is generating electricity from a micro-hydro project.
The US$75 000 project, a community initiative sponsored by a
non-governmental organisation, Practical Action Southern Africa, is designed
to improve the lives of people living in rural areas.
So far at least 400 households, clinics and schools in Chipendeke — 70km
south of Mutare — are already using electricity from the project for
cooking, lighting and even to power their electrical domestic gadgets.
A recent visit to the area by Standardcommunity revealed that life had
changed for the better for the community following the commissioning of the
project, which has a capacity to generate 25 kilowatts of energy.
One of the beneficiaries of the project, Misheck Mukundwa (33) said the
venture had assisted the community to raise income to sustain their
“People can now afford to pay fees for their children and buy food from the
sale of produces from the irrigation scheme,” he said.
A smallholder farmer, Shadreck Mudiwa said the project had enabled him to
boost agricultural production at Chipendeke Irrigation Scheme.
“The availability of electric power has encouraged us as farmers to produce
more food for the community and for resale in the city,” said Mudiwa. “We
used to incur losses when our perishables turned bad. But now we can
refrigerate them before taking them to the market.”
A local environmentalist, Brian Makumbe said the introduction of electricity
in the area had reduced environmental degradation as people now used less
firewood for cooking and lighting.
“We really appreciated this kind of initiative because it brings development
and sustainable management of the environment,” said Makumbe. “We expect
villagers to save the forest because they have an alternative source of
A nurse at Chipendeke Clinic said before the advent of electricity, staff at
the health centre used to light candles to enable surgical operations at
Storing drugs was also a major challenge.
“We can now operate at night and store our medicines in the refrigerator.
The biggest challenge was that of pregnant mothers who wanted to deliver at
night. They had to bring their own candles,” said a nurse who declined to be
A teacher at a local school, Maxwell Zenda said he expected the pass rate in
schools in the area to improve as students would now have enough time to
study and prepare for exams at night.
Clinics and schools pay US$0,10 per kilowatt while business and households
pay US$0,32 and US$0,15 respectively for the electricity.
Business entities pay more because they derive profit from the project.
The project has also created employment for the locals.
A team of villagers was trained in managing the vending system, installation
of prepaid meters and updating database for users and electrical components.
Improving access to modern energy services
The Chipendeke project is part of a five-year regional micro-hydro project
called Catalysing Modern Energy Service Delivery to Marginal Communities in
The main aim is to improve access to modern energy services and increase
uptake of renewable energy technologies.
The project seeks to remove the policy, technical and institutional barriers
that limit the development and use of renewable energy sources to meet the
energy needs of poor, off-grid communities.
According to Practical Action, access to electricity in rural areas in
southern Africa remains low with Malawi on 0,05%, Mozambique 0,7% and
Residents’ associations threaten to sue Zesa over inflated bills
November 11, 2012 in Local
Residents’ associations in Harare have threatened to sue the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) should it fail to refund consumers it
has been overcharging since last year.
REPORT BY JENNIFER DUBE
The Administrative Court recently nullified Zesa tariffs increases effected
in September 2011, technically forcing the power utility to revert to 2009
This was after a successful legal challenge initiated by the Confederation
of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).
Residents, who have always complained about exorbitant charges against a
poor service — received the ruling with joy.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) executive director, Precious Shumba last week
vowed to ensure that consumers got their money back.
“To the residents, the nullification of the rates which were introduced in
September 2011 means that Zesa has to recalculate the bills that were
overcharged and credit the accounts of residents that were affected,” he
“If for any reason, Zesa fails to implement the Administrative Court’s
decision, then the HRT will have no option but to take the matter to the
courts seeking legal redress. Alternatively, being the most popular route
for residents, widespread demonstrations targeting Zesa will be undertaken
with the objective of forcing Zesa Holdings to comply with the law.”
Shumba said last month alone, the HRT intervened in nearly 80 cases relating
to chaotic Zesa billing.
HRT has handled 987 cases since the beginning of the year, up from 400 cases
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) chairman Simbarashe Moyo said
the administrative court ruling was a clear testimony of how difficult life
was for residents.
“Zesa’s inconsistencies have prejudiced residents for a long time,” Moyo
said. “First there was the estimated billing, then the US$30 and US$40 set
by government for high and low density suburbs respectively.
He added: “Then came the era of unjustifiably high tariffs which turn out to
be illegal more than a year down the line.”
Moyo said Zesa must cancel all outstanding bills and start on a new note
based on the prepaid meters they promised to install.
Zesa last week said it had so far installed 19 000 prepaid meters
countrywide. It assured ratepayers that power woes, would soon be over as it
targets to complete the installation of the meters within 10 months.
Under pressure ZESA promises to stop disconnections
By Alex Bell
09 November 2012
The national power utility has promised to stop disconnecting customers with
outstanding payments, while it faces more pressure to sort out its billing
ZESA has ordered its regional managers countrywide to stop power
disconnections, to fall in line with a directive from the Energy Minister
Elton Mangoma more than two months ago. In August, Mangoma had said the
disconnections would stop while the power utility was installing prepaid
meters to households across the country.
However, the directive was not honoured and there have been ongoing reports
of customers being disconnected, despite many insisting that the estimated
bills provided by ZESA do not match their actual power usage.
Jenni Williams, who leads the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA),
said on Friday that the orders to stop the disconnections will come as a
welcome relief. WOZA has been pressuring ZESA throughout the past year to
sort out its billing and power shortage issues, and provide customers with a
proper service. Williams told SW Radio Africa that the ongoing
disconnections have been a source of anger and discontent for many of their
Williams also welcomed a court decision which could see ZESA reimbursing its
customers. An administrate court last week ruled that an energy tariff
increase of more than 30%, that was imposed more than a year ago, was
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries had contested the new tariff on the
basis that when it was approved, the board of the Zimbabwe Electricity
Regulatory Authority (ZERA) was not properly constituted as required by the
law. The Administrative Court president Herbert Mandeya ruled that the
increase was invalid, and ordered ZERA to come up with a new tariff in three
months. Until then, the old tariffs imposed in 2009 will be charged.
There is also still no indication of how the power authority plans to
reimburse customers directly or credit their accounts. WOZA’s Williams said
that either way it is a vindication for those who raised concerns about
being overcharged by ZESA. Williams however raised concerns about the
possible implications of the court decision, warning that ZESA had slowly
begun to improve.
“In 2009 when the old tariff was set we had come out of the most dismal
economic downturn ever. A lot of our rates and prices had not been properly
established and there was a phase of experimentation. What we saw subsequent
to that in the last year, we saw somehow less power cuts, the stabilisation
of a pricing structure. So there have been incremental although slow
improvements,” Williams said.
She expressed concern that these improvements will be reversed if ZESA is
now taking less money every month, after overcharging people for over a
year. She said the implications of that could likely mean more power cuts in
“I’m led to believe that because there have been more customers paying, ZESA
has been in a better position. But now if they are in a negative balance and
they need to refund their consumers, it will prejudice their abilities to
pay for power,” Williams said.
ZESA spokesman Fullard Gwasira had agreed to speak to SW Radio Africa on
Friday, but he was not reachable by phone.
ZESA loses out to resettled farmers
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority could be losing thousands of
dollars in potential revenue through illegal power connections on resettled
farms, it has emerged.
by Sphiwe Ndlovu
In Selous under Chief Chivero’s area people use tree poles to connect wires
to power supplies illegally. Recently two poles collapsed and electrocuted a
cow that was grazing nearby.
Resettled residents of another farm in the same area have also illegally
connected electricity to their homes. More than 80 families are living with
electricity in what used to be a compound.
The power supply is illegally connected to a transformer situated in the
farm house and untreated gum-poles are sunk into the ground to connect live
wires to houses around the compound.
“Each person contributed $40 to buy electric wires and gum-poles for power
to reach his/her home,” said a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity
ZESA Public Relations Manager Fullard Gwasira said they were aware that
illegal connections were taking place in some areas, adding that there were
monitors at every distribution base station across the country. It is a
criminal offense to connect illegally to power supplies.
Ten new power producers licensed
by Roman Moyo
SOME ten independent power producers with a capacity to generate over 5,000
megawatts of electricity have been licensed by the Zimbabwe Energy
Regulatory Authority (ZERA).
The new producers are expected to complement power utility ZESA which is
struggling to meet demand and has rationed supplies to both domestic and
commercial users for years.
ZERA Chief Executive Officer, Engineer Gloria Magombo said the coming on
board of independent power producers will complement the existing power
Some of the licensed power producers are already operational while two -
Pungwe and Duru Hydro-Power Stations - are set to be commissioned in the
next six months with a capacity to generate 5,2 megawatts.
ZERA has since licensed Essar Africa Holdings (600MW), China Africa Sunlight
(Pvt) Ltd (120MW) and Nyangani Renewable - Duru Minihydro (3.8 MW).
Essar Africa Holdings’ commissioning is expected in 2016, China Africa
Sunlight (Pvt) Ltd commissioning is in 2014 while Nyangani Renewable Duru
Minihydro commissioning is in 2013.
The country is facing a huge power deficit which has impacted negatively on
industry’s performance, with the country generating an average of 1,000
megawatts out of a requirement of 2,200 megawatts.
In a bid to compliment power generation at Kariba, Hwange and other small
power stations, government opened up the sector to independent power
“Power projects by their nature are capital intensive and will cost US$2,5
million per megawatt and take up to five years before completion,” Magombo
ZERA has licensed nearly 20 independent power producers, of which four small
ones located in outlying areas are already operational with a combined
capacity of 83MW, generally lighting up the Lowveld and keeping a sawmill
Some of the companies that have been licensed but are not yet operational
include the proposed giant Sengwa Power Station (2 400 MW), Lusulu Power
Plant, to the north of Sengwa in Binga (2 000 MW), which is expected to be
completed next year.
Eunafric Power Station, with an initial capacity of 120 MW, is in
discussions with Harare City Council and the Zimbabwe Electricity
Transmission and Distribution
S. Korea sees potential in Zim's power sector
By Guthrie Munyuki, Senior Assistant Editor
Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:09
HARARE - South Korea wants to bring to an end Zimbabwe’s electricity agony
which has seen intermittent power cuts adversely affecting key sectors of
Boasting of experience in building power stations both at home and abroad,
the Asian country seeks to help Zimbabwe expand its power base.
However, there are no prospects of an immediate deal.
“Construction of power stations in your country is a necessity. A viable
energy sector is what your country needs desperately right now because
without energy you cannot do anything,” Korean ambassador to Zimbabwe, LEW
Kwang-chul,” told the Daily News this week.
“In this sector (power and energy) Korea has a role to play because we have
built a lot of power stations, and every kind of power station in other
“You need to construct more power stations, either hydropower, coal fuel or
gas turbine station.
“But as Korea we did not only build many power stations in our own country
but we do have lots of experience building power stations overseas.
“So for us, if our companies can make a contribution they can come to your
country and start building modern power stations.”
However, there are no immediate plans to engage the Koreans in the expansion
of power stations.
Government is yet to sound its Korean counterparts while it continues using
ad hoc measures to keep Zimbabwe powered.
“Your government is having an interest in renovating the hydropower
“Our strength lies in building thermal power stations. As your industry
grows I am sure you will see the need to build more power stations.
“We have lots of things to cooperate with you. As I told you, we can play a
significant role. Once terms of negotiations are met appropriately from both
sides, certainly we can do that.”
The Korean envoy spoke as Zimbabwe continues to experience power shortages
as a result of varying factors.
Among them are the cash squeezes to import more power to augment what is
currently produced and finance rehabilitation of current power stations.
Zimbabwe needs about 2 200 megawatts of electricity at peak consumption but
generates less than 1 300 megawatts.
As part of an audacious bid to improve power supplies, Zimbabwe looks
expectantly to the Batoka Hydro Project agreed with Zambia.
It has the potential to generate between 1 600 to 2 000 megawatts.
Currently, Zimbabwe relies heavily on Kariba and Hwange power stations whose
power-generation capacities are severely restricted — putting more strain on
treasury which finances import of additional supplies from the region.
Regionally, only the Hydro Cahora Basa in Mozambique is exporting power to
Zimbabwe amid surging power demand in southern Africa.
Yet South Korea says its profile in building thermal power stations both at
home and overseas, is enough testimony of its commitment to end power woes.
“We accumulated a lot of experience in building, in our country, these
energy producing stations. On the other hand we went abroad and there we
built a lot of power stations.
“We do not only build power stations but we also run them under Independent
Power Project for between 15-20 years and hand over to the host country,”
South Korea has built power stations in the Middle East, Africa and some
Asian countries such as Philippines, according to the envoy.
The Asian country, with a population of 50 million, is Asia’s fourth largest
and the world’s 15th largest economy.
Its economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics,
automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics.
Zimbabwe is among the several African countries that have benefited from the
$1 billion assistance under the Korea Africa Economic Cooperation (Koafec).
Kwang-chul said Korea’s rapid economic and social development, particularly
in the field of IT and agriculture holds valuable promise for Zimbabwe.
“Obviously, Korea, like China, is also a very well known industrial country.
“We do produce a lot of manufactured goods. In doing so, the natural
resources are a necessity for our country.
“It’s quite natural that a many Koreans population do have a lot of interest
in countries like Zimbabwe.
“We do have keen interest in the extractive industry. Agriculture in certain
aspects is also a natural resource.
“Some of the Korean companies have a lot of interest in resuscitating
commercial farming in your country. As far as I know some of them are
already in negotiation phase with your concerned authority.
“That’s my understanding. But as you know, it takes some time to complete
all these negotiation procedures.
“Certainly in the near future, some of the bigger Korean companies will make
their presence in Zimbabwe.
“They are open to do business in extractive industries and commercial
farming,” said the ambassador.
However, he implored the government to establish a legal and ownership
system that allows commercial farmers to run their businesses with
While seeing resuscitation in agriculture, Kwang-chul observed that most
farms were saddled with poor irrigation equipment despite the abundant small
“You have many small dams but unfortunately because of many factors
including lack of electricity you cannot take advantage of these dams even
though you have water in these dams. You cannot draw it to the farms,” he
Most farmers have suffered bad cropping as a result of drought-induced
effects, including poor rains.
Consequently, Zimbabwe has remained on the throes of cereal and grain
deficits blamed on both these factors and its chaotic 2000 agrarian reforms
which empowered peasants and Zanu PF politicians.
But Kwang-chul said Zimbabwe was poised to rejuvenate its agriculture by
installing new measures such as technology.
Korea, said its envoy, has programmes that would open avenues to new trends
in different sectors of the economy.
“In order to reach this level of course, Korea had to run a lot of public
complicated economic development programmes.
“Those economic experiences are the things we want to share with
Zimbabweans. We are ready to open our
expertise and know-how which we have gathered through all these complicated
“From government side, we already have some programmes run through the
Knowledge Sharing Programme.
“We continue our exercise to transfer our technology and expertise to the
Zimbabwe people by inviting more of Zimbabwean trainees either to Korean
International Aid Cooperation (Koica) or some other programmes,” said
He said big Korean corporations were also running their own training
“Perhaps we can take advantage of that. I would like to see enhanced
exchange of people, just ordinary people, students, tourists, visitors and
“Ordinary people are the backbone of that valuable cooperation for the two
In his one-and-half years in Zimbabwe, Kwang-chul observed that the
transition government has made progress which he said was sufficient to lead
towards national consensus in resolving socio-economic and political issues.
“My observation is that your country is moving in the right direction.
“I would want to see all these complicated procedures move on peacefully,
non violent, smoothly and to see a united people.
“I want to see Zimbabwe united even though you have to run this very
“Unity from own experience, is quite important for the country to move
ahead,” said Kwang-chul.
‘Bring us on board, we will light you!’
Cash-strapped Zesa losing plot on free bulbs
Saturday, 27 October 2012 00:00
Zesa appears to be spending around US$6,1 million on free light bulbs for
consumers, most of whom do not pay their inflated bills, while it slows down
on the spread of pre-paid meters. It all seems very odd. Of course energy
saving fluorescent bulbs will save a lot of energy. Zesa reckons it could
save 200MW as darkness falls, enough to keep Bulawayo lit up. But the saving
will not be so great, unfortunately, simply because many households already
use these bulbs and so much of the expected savings have already been made.
Consumers are not stupid. They can see the savings almost immediately.
What may have made a little bit of sense a few years ago, now makes no sense
at all. The energy-saving bulbs are hardly new technology. A variety of
makes are readily available on all supermarket shelves and cost around twice
as much as equivalent tungsten filament bulbs. People have been buying them.
Some other utilities did give out free bulbs years ago, but just one to a
household to prove that the new bulbs did produce decent light and were
quite safe. Most countries did what Zimbabwe should have already done and
which it can do right now: they banned the manufacture and import of
filament bulbs and stocks on shelves soon ran out, leaving just the
fluorescent bulbs and now the first LED bulbs that are likely to become the
standard within a few years.
Some countries, with factories pouring out the old filament bulbs, had to
tread carefully as they brought in the bans, giving enough notice to
industrialists so factories could be converted.
But those, like Zimbabwe, which never made the old-fashioned bulbs simply
announced an import ban and watched as consumers quickly converted as the
short-life tungsten bulbs expired. The utilities achieved their desired
conversion without spending a cent.
Zesa and its parent energy ministry could do exactly the same. Zimbabwe has
laws that allow the Government to either ban specific imports or to impose
such high duties that the undesired item becomes too expensive.
Why has Zesa not pushed for such an import ban? The case is good so it would
not need much more than a Minister phoning another Minister.
The money saved from an ill-considered policy to give some households a
free-gift could be put towards some of the programmes Zesa keeps telling us
it desperately needs. Not all households will benefit; those that have
already switched will get nothing except the contempt of Zesa staff, a
strange reward for taking Zesa advice.
Zesa has already paid US$2 million for 1,8 million bulbs that are not in
short supply and plans to spend another US$4,11 million on the rest of what
seem a huge order.
That US$6 million could have been spent on a lot of other things that would
reduce consumption, like the pre-paid meters just about every consumer wants
desperately, so desperately that there are rumours, probably untrue, that
Zesa staff are taking hefty bribes to let a consumer jump the queue.
But the rumour-mongering is a sign of frustration over delays and a sign
that people really want Zesa to move faster on the meters.
But with warehouses bulging with the new bulbs and more no doubt on order,
what is Zesa to do?
They can quickly do something right. They can get the law used to ban
imports of filament bulbs, so achieving the desirable end of seeing these
phased out and they can sell their fluorescent bulbs to wholesalers and
shops at a little more than cost price and get their money back.
They can then use that money to buy stuff they are short of. They do not
need to compound a silly and expensive mistake by insisting on repeating it.
Mozambique to boost power supplies: ZESA
by Staff Reporter
ZESA has reduced its debt with Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa from US$76
million to just under US$3 million over the last six months with officials
saying this would help improve power supplies across the country.
Zimbabwe needs about 2,200 megawatts of electricity at peak consumption but
ZESA generates just below 1,300 megawatts and plugs the gap with imports
from the regional suppliers.
The utility has been forced to ration power to both domestic and commercial
users after supplies from the region were cut over mounting debts.
However, ZESA spokesman, Fullard Gwasira said reduction the Hydro Cahora
Bassa debt to about US$2.7 million would see the company boosting supplies.
ZESA expects to pay up the debt by year end.
“Load-shedding is going to be significantly reduced as Cahora Bassa have
increased their supply to us as we have almost cleared the debt we owe
them,” he said.
“The challenge we have is that we are splitting our resources between two
equally important areas.
“First we have to pay for the electricity we are importing on a daily basis
while secondly some money also has to be channelled towards clearing the
“It’s a matter of tackling two issues at the same time, but we are confident
that we would have cleared the debt by the end of the year.”
ZESA’s financial troubles have also been worsened by customers failing to
pay their bills. The utility says it is owed about US$500 million.
“With the introduction of pre-paid meters, the era of a consumers using
electricity and then failing to honour their bills will be a thing of the
past,” Gwasira said.
Energy Minister, Elton Mangoma, has also revealed that several new projects
are also planned to help boost the country’s power generation capacity.
Early this year, Mangoma said a French consortium had been granted a licence
to build a 2,000 MW thermal power plant in an investment worth about US$3
The power station will be situated at Binga’s Lusulu coal fields which are
said to have an estimated 1,2 billion tonnes of coal reserves.
And last month, Chinese firm Guangdong Bureau of Coal Geology also announced
plans to invest $3.5 billion to build a 1,200 megawatt thermal power plant.
Outcry as ZESA continues disconnections over unpaid bills
By Tichaona Sibanda
09 October 2012
There has been huge outcry from ZESA consumers countrywide following the
power utility’s ongoing program to cut off supplies from those with
Two months ago, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma ordered
ZESA to stop disconnecting all consumers with unpaid bills, until it had
installed prepaid meters. It is hoped that the meters will put an end to
ZESA’s estimated billing system that thousands of consumers have said do not
reflect their actual power usage.
The power utility is in the process of rolling out prepaid meters in all
domestic and business premises, and it expects that in 10 months time 600
000 customers will have the meters installed. Currently only 19 000
customers have the new service.
But in apparent defiance of the minister and government’s directive, ZESA
has been disconnecting power to thousands of defaulting domestic and
commercial consumers in the past few weeks. The state controlled Herald
reported that several households and businesses countrywide, including those
at growth points, have been disconnected.
Mangoma has urged those being disconnected to report to his ministry.
Customers owe the power utility more than $600 million. Many have bills
averaging between $500 and $1 000, accumulated since the introduction of
multiple currency system.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported that despite Mangoma’s
directive, ZESA has not stopped disconnecting power to consumers with
He said the problem is that consumers with outstanding bills have not taken
up ZESA’s advice to negotiate methods of payment with the power utility.
“This is nothing new in Harare, ZESA has not stopped cutting off power for
months, they do it everyday as long as you owe them money in unpaid bills,”
“But if you approach the company and work out a repayment plan, they will
not cut off power to your household or business premise,” Muchemwa added.
Muchemwa said that such arrangements are understood to have been made by
high level government defaulters, who were singled out in a report this year
as not paying their bills. This information was received with anger by
regular consumers, who complained that the power utility was only
disconnecting them and not government officials.
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