The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Zimbabwe is still at its infancy as the country makes headway to ensure its populace make use of alternative energy sources instead of relying on grid electricity.
In an interview with Sunday News Business recently, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) petroleum and infrastructure engineer Andrew Gure said although usage of LPG has been on an upward trend since the organisation started collecting data in 2010, the figures were still very low.
“When we started taking figures I think we were at about 5 000 tonnes per year (in terms of LPG usage) and then we increased annually up to 2018 when we went up to something like 38 000 tonnes per year,” he said.
Eng Gure however, said usage of LPG was only concentrated in urban settlements culminating to the ratio of consumption per person in the country being at its lowest compared to other countries.
“We are still far from the benchmark of other countries (in terms of LPG use). We are talking of countries where the average usage per person is 10kgs (kilogrammes) per person. We are basically looking at the population versus the total LPG usage.
“There are people who are not using it at all so they then pull the average down. In countries where that ratio goes to 12kgs per person it means there is massive and widespread use by everyone even in the rural areas but here it is only concentrated in urban areas,” he said.
Eng Gure said the estimated usage of LPG in the country has plunged from about 2,5kgs last year to one kilogramme largely owing to lack of foreign currency by local suppliers to import the commodity.
“For this year so far I think we have only done about 15 million kgs per half year divided by 16 million people (country’s population) we have one kilogramme per person which has fallen because last year we were going at around 2,5kgs per person,” he said.
Uses of LPG include residential cooking, heating water and vehicle fuel. Propane-LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) uses for commercial purposes include LPG applications like petrochemical feedstock, aerosol propellant, air conditioning refrigerant and as fuel for power generators.
Eng Gure said Zera was carrying out outreach programmes to promote the use of LPG throughout the country.
“We are moving big time in training and awareness that even the rural people should also see the convenience of LPG. It is clean, safe and instantaneous meaning that when you switch it on heat will be there and if you switch it off heat will be gone. So you also see that it’s economic unlike an electric stove that when you switch it off it remains hot, all that energy you would have paid for but you don’t need it. LPG is a very good form of energy to use so we are promoting that to people who are even in the out laying areas so that they also jump onto it hence its growth,” he said.
Eng Gure said Zera was also making efforts to train more LPG installers. The country has 35 certified LPG installers 30 of whom were trained by a South Africa-based organisation, LPG Safety Association of Southern Africa through a training course facilitated by Zera between 2015 and 2016 while the other five were trained in the neighbouring country through their own initiative.
Training requirements for installers are stipulated in Statutory Instrument 57 of LPG regulations section 19, which says that anyone who undertakes LPG installations in Zimbabwe must be certified by Zera.
“There is no capacity locally to train people so we have sat down with South African Bureau of Standards the ones with the requirements for installers and we have approached National Manpower Advisory Council (NAMACO) under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology. We have successfully lobbied that a trade of LPG installers be recognised,” said Eng Gure.
He said the formation of the Zimbabwe LPG Association would go a long way towards regulating the industry.