The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government will consider revoking licences of Independent Power Producers failing to kick start their projects as it moves to reduce the power deficit grappling the country, a Cabinet Minister has said.
In an interview after a tour of Bulawayo Power Station last Friday, Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi said there was a need to ensure that all the licensed power projects are started as soon as possible.
“We need to quickly advance the execution of projects by all those who are licensed.
I have asked Zera (Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) to examine the status of each licensed project to see exactly where we are with each of them.
We need to understand if there are specific challenges each particular licencee is facing,” he said.
Adv Chasi said failure by any licencee to justify the reason for non-operating, the ministry would be compelled to revoke such a licence.
“If we are satisfied that there is unjustified pilgrimage around implementation of the projects, then the necessary action will be taken.
We cannot have a long list of licences which are not productive.
Everything has to be very legal.
The licencees must be given the right to explain themselves around the issue of non-performance because at the end of the day, we cannot hang onto people that keep licences for speculative purposes,” he said.
Zera has also expressed dismay at the rate at which most of the IPPs are taking time to operationalise their projects as the country moves to reduce its power deficit.
The energy regulator has to date licensed 61 IPPs with a combined capacity of contributing 6 671,886 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
However, only 16 projects are operating contributing 131,276 (MW) to the grid.
“We are not satisfied with progress being made by IPPs in developing projects since most of them are not yet operational, only 16 projects are now operating,” said Zera acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Muzambani.
Two projects with a capacity of contributing 200,5MW have been commissioned but are not operational while seven with a capacity of 57,9MW are under construction.
In recent years, the country liberalised its energy sector in a bid to promote the participation of private capital but most of the projects have failed to take off.
Zimbabwe imports at least 50MW daily from Eskom of South Africa and 100MW from Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique to meet the supply gap, but can access up to 450MW from the two regional power utilities if it pays off its arrears which amount to more than US$80 million.
As a result of outstanding debts, the two suppliers have reduced exports to Zimbabwe by 50MW and 100MW respectively until their dues have been cleared.
However, the country last week paid the South African power utility US$10 million as part of its efforts to service its debt with Government working on offsetting arrears to the two suppliers.
The country is battling electricity shortages following a sharp decline in water levels in the Kariba Dam due to erratic rains in the 2018-19 rainfall season, and generation constraints at Hwange Power Station because of ageing equipment.
Zimbabwe and Zambia share less than 1 000MW, which is currently being generated by Kariba Hydro-electric Power Station.
The country has four thermal power stations namely Munyati, Bulawayo, Harare and Hwange and one hydro-power station in the form of Kariba.
As of Friday last week Munyati and Bulawayo were not contributing anything to the national grid. Kariba was producing (574 MW), Hwange (319 MW) and Harare (15 MW) for a combined total of 908MW.