A power deal that is to be signed between Zimbabwe and Botswana before the end of the month is expected to ease acute power shortages being experienced across the country and that has resulted in increased load shedding.
The signing of the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will pave way for the refurbishment of the Bulawayo Power Station through the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) by June 2010.
After the refurbishment exercise, the Bulawayo Power Station will generate 90 megawatts of electricity out of which Botswana will be receiving 40 megawatts for a three year period.
A meeting last month between Zimbabwe and Botswana’s energy ministers resolved that the revival of the Bulawayo Power Station was a necessary short term measure for meeting the two countries’ electricity needs.
A communiqu├® of the meeting resolved that, “It was agreed at the meeting that short term measures be introduced to restore optimal generation capacity of Bulawayo Power Station by June 2010 and to enhance transmission capacity at the Zimbabwe power grid.”
The rehabilitation of the Bulawayo Power Station is seen as a positive step to avert an electricity disaster that has hit the Southern African region lately.
South Africa’s Eskom is expected to reduce its electricity supply to Botswana by 100 megawatts next year, according to recent media reports, as it battles with meeting its own domestic electricity deficits.
Meanwhile, power cuts have increased across the country as the state-run parastatal ZESA Holdings battles to meet electricity demands. Coupled with non-payment of electricity bills by both domestic and industrial users, the situation remains dire for the country’s electricity company.
ZESA Holdings spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira, said, “ZESA is owed in excess of US$230 million by customers, a situation which impacts negatively on service delivery and operational efficiency.”
The electricity company has recently embarked on a campaign of disconnecting electricity supplies on the premises of defrauding clients in order to force them to pay their bills.
A move condemned by customers.
“Their (ZESA) charges are too high and the problem is we are expected to pay in full all our bills which is impossible, considering that we get paid the civil servant salary of US$140,” said Cleopatra Musvipa a Cowdray Park resident.
Zimbabwe needs 2 389 megawatts of electricity daily, but is currently generating 1 700 megawatts of electricity from its five electricity plants, leaving a deficit of 689 megawatts.