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Zimbabwe Forcing Industries To Rely On Erratic ZESA Power Supplies

  • Gibbs Dube

Ruth Labode, president of the Matabeleland Confederation of Industries said private companies will rather import expensive power than rely on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority which is failing to cope with demand.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says government is blocking private entities from importing electricity from regional utilities despite serious power outages in Zimbabwe.

According to the Herald newspaper, CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye told delegates at the on-going CZI annual conference in Victoria Falls that if unresolved, power outages will soon cripple industries.

He said though some private companies were early this year issued licenses to generate power, they have not yet started operating. at least two private firms are believed to be generating power for boosting their operations.

Ruth Labode, president of the Matabeleland Confederation of Industries said private companies will rather import expensive power than rely on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority which is failing to cope with demand.

Matabeleland regional Chamber of Commerce president Isaac Mabuka said industries will find it difficult to import power from regional utilities but he commends Finance Minister Tendai Biti for crafting a package for distressed industries.

Economist James Wade said most industries are failing to meet production targets due to the high cost of loans and power outages.

For a close look at issues affecting industries, Studio 7 turned to economists John Robertson and Prosper Chitambara of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe. Robertson said Biti in his mid-term budget review statement did not say much that will help resuscitate struggling industries in the country.

In his budget review statement, Biti said a recent Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) survey reveals that average capacity utilization during the first half of 2011 remains within the 40 to 50 percent range, reflecting high levels of idle capacity.

However, companies in the foodstuffs, drinks, beverages and tobacco, non-metallic minerals, mining and chemicals sectors recorded slight improvements in capacity utilization of over 50 percent as a result of marginal investments in those sectors.

Employment numbers in the textile sector have slumped from 7,500 in 2010 to 3,000 in 2011 largely due to an influx of cheap imports, working capital constraints and obsolete equipment. Capacity utilization has fallen further to 8 percent from the 2010 levels of 30 percent, according to ZIMSTAT.

Tourist arrivals and bed occupancy growth rates of 14.3 percent were recorded in the tourism sector in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period last year.

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