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Is Someone Thinking of an Energy Plan for Zimbabwe?

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When I left work at 2pm on Friday I carried some work home with me. You see, l foolishly intended to do some work over the weekend. Foolishly, because like most Zimbabweans, l live with the reality of load shedding. Some have it worse than others. Like most Zimbabweans, the electricity goes when it goes and comes when it comes. According to the ZESA schedule, I was not supposed to have load shedding over the weekend, but at noon on Friday, it was lights out in my neck of the woods. It remained lights out until Saturday at about 3 pm. We had electricity all of 30-40 mins before it was lights out again, throughout the rest of the day and into night. Sunday morning came and went with no electricity. It only came back at about 3pm on Sunday. Needless to say, I could do no work; I was busy fretting about the putrefying veges and leftovers in my fridge.

I have relatives living in peri-urban Gweru. This used to be a thriving farming community before the farmers were “liberated” of their farms. These farmers would deliver tank loads of fresh milk to Dairibord, among other produce. Now of course that doesn’t happen anymore. The merry (in a manner of speaking) band of stragglers who resettled on some of these farms struggle to produce enough maize to feed themselves from one season to the next. Of course, the region is not a good maize growing region. But that’s another story. The story is that for the few remaining dairy farmers, the power outages have really hit them hard. On a typical day, it’s lights out at 5.30 and back in the evening or as late as 10 pm. How is anyone expected to maintain any level of productivity when you don’t have electricity for the main and productive part of the day? Think of the wheat farmers who cannot irrigate their winter wheat crop because there is no power. To think this is a story that is being repeated even as our long comatose manufacturing industry tries to sputter to life. It is being repeated in hundreds of thousands of homes where young people are trying hard to study for their “O” and “A” Level exams. It is being repeated in the hospital wards, labs and theatres where doctors and nurses are failing to give patients proper care. I would imagine the story is the same in the mining industry. As for business, you would be well advised to have your office in the CBD. Go 2 km out of the CBD and you are fair game for power cuts. It seems ZESA is determined to kill off what few businesses remain viable after the last ten years of madness in Zimbabwe.

What I am not hearing in all this talk of power (the political kind) is any talk of an energy plan. The truth of the matter is that the sub region is heading for a power crisis (of the electrical kind!). I hope for all our sakes, someone is alive to this reality or else we are doomed to be a nation of noisy, air polluting generators. City of Harare it would seem, has woken up and smelt the er…sunshine. They have started installing solar traffic lights. So how about streets lights to stop the muggings?

And who says, we should only have one power utility company in Zimbabwe?

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