The Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission has approved the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority’s request for a 31 percent tariff increase starting in September intended to bolster the state power utility’s financial position and to reduce power blackouts.
ZESA spokesman Fullard Gwasira said the power regulator increased the rates from 7.53 to 9.83 cents per kilowatt hour. He said this is the lowest in the Southern African region where electricity charges currently range from 13 to 14 cents a kilowatt hour.
Gwasira said the rise was needed to fund an expansion of power production capacity. The country needs to tap 2,200 megawatts but the parastatal is producing only 1,300.
Gwasira said ZESA also intends to use the additional revenue to buy modern equipment to address billing problems which have angered consumers and advocates.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Director Roderick Fayayo said ZESA’s rate increases were poorly timed. "What ZESA is doing defies logic because many Zimbabweans cannot afford to pay the current tariffs," Fayayo said.
Harare Residents Trust spokesman Precious Shumba told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that residents were very much opposed to the rate increases.
The parastatal recently said it will purchase some 6 million energy-conserving light bulbs at a cost of US$12 million, aiming to free up some 200 megawatts for commercial use.