Production in some companies has taken a major knock amid reports it has declined by 30 percent due to the current power outages that have gone beyond the planned 12-hour load shedding countrywide, according to the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
Due to faults being experienced at the country’s major power stations — Hwange and Kariba, there has been extended load shedding outside the programmed 12-hour schedule.
In an interview, ZNCC president, Mike Kamungeremu, said production has been interrupted due to the prevailing power supply situation.
“Production is interrupted as Zesa cannot stick to the published load shedding schedule. Following the published 12-hour load shedding some of the companies resorted to expensive diesel-powered generators only for them to discover that they were incurring additional overheads as the load shedding went above the scheduled time.
“Also some companies that brought their workers to work at night expecting that power would be restored have incurred additional overheads such as overtime and those with back-up power like diesel powered generators have suffered increased cost of production as generators are expensive to run.
“As a result of all this, I have been told by some of our members that their production capacity has been cut by 30 percent,” he said, adding that this is not sustainable as the productive sector needs guaranteed power supply.
Zesa through its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), indicated on its website that as of yesterday, the country was producing 1 117MW against a national demand of about 2 200MW.
Kariba Hydropower plant which has an installed capacity of 1 050MW, was yesterday producing 854MW while Hwange Thermal Power Station was generating 234MW against an installed capacity of 920MW.
The country’s small-thermal power plants namely Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo, were generating 11MW, 14MW and 0MW respectively.
Kamungeremu said due to the cost of production engendered by depressed power generation, the net effect was that ultimately the retail price of goods would rise beyond the reach of many consumers and thus suppressing aggregate demand in the market.
In a separate interview, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president,
Kurai Matsheza, said they have also engaged Zesa over the prevailing power situation in the country and indications were that
there is no imminent solution to the predicament.
He said industry has been hard hit at a time when production was supposed to pick up ahead of improved aggregate demand for goods and services created during the festive season.
“We are not producing, we are hard hit and it’s a disaster for industry and the whole economy. We have had a meeting with Zesa and its depressing that they (Zesa) do not have an immediate solution to the current power supply situation.
“Zesa has indicated that there is not going to be stability at Hwange as two units are constantly breaking down so electricity is not guaranteed.
“Similarly, at Kariba two units are
down and may not be coming on board anytime soon; all this is coming at that time of
the year when production is expected to pick-up ahead of the expected increased demand during the festive season,” said Matsheza.
Based on affordability, Matsheza said some of the CZI members were resorting to expensive sources of power that drive the cost of production upwards.
Asked about their manufacturing sector capacity utilisation, which was projected at above 65 percent this year, the CZI president said: “It looks like it (targeted capacity utilisation) has been derailed.
“We have to do the numbers again to confirm the revised projection in line with the obtaining situation. But the general feeling is that the targeted capacity utilisation has been derailed.”
This year capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector was projected to go beyond 65 percent.
In 2021, capacity utilisation improved to 56,25 percent from 47 percent in 2020 largely on the back of increased investments in the manufacturing sector.