ZimFirst’s Energy Reform Policy will bring back jobs to the people and will guarantee the eradication of power cuts in our nation, says Dr. Zeb Shumba
Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround under a ZinFirst government will be hinged on the implementation of a robust and innovative Energy Policy. Zimbabwe First (People First Party) under Dr. Maxwell Zeb Shumba’s well researched Energy Policy will drive the revival of the manufacturing and agricultural industries creating as well as providing uninterrupted supply of electricity for domestic use.
The current electricity power crisis is enough proof that, in spite of spending well over 35 years in government, Zanu(PF) never came up with, or attempted to implement a proactive policy on energy development.
The economy has, subsequently, been seriously undermined. Left unchecked, the power crisis could as easily threaten national security as it has been on the social wellbeing of the people.
There is no worse betrayal of the people than this – and by their own government. Independence is rendered meaningless.
Recent media reports, where the Minister responsible for energy development was quoted blaming the meteorological department for failing to correctly predict rainfall patterns as the cause of the current electricity power crisis, makes very sad reading.
What it shows is that there has never been a solid policy on energy in Zimbabwe. It also proves that the government has now reached the end of the road on the issue.
Their frantic efforts to build the much touted 250 megawatt electricity generation diesel plant in Mutare will not help. In fact it will just increase the cost of electricity for consumers and an already burdened economy.
Historically, pre and after independence, electricity power generation was the responsibility of CAPCO Central African Power Corporation, while transmission and distribution was done through local boards and municipalities.
This setup was later replaced, by an act of parliament, with ZESA becoming the entity responsible for generation, transmission and distribution of electrical energy. The State assumed control of running of ZESA.
ZESA was further unbundled into different business units creating ZPC, ZETDC etc in a vain attempt to create efficiency. However, this only created more companies (business units) with bloated management wasting a lot of government resources as ZESA is funded from state tax payer’s money and opening avenues for corrupt activities.
No serious attempt was made by the government to deal with the real issues affecting electricity generation. These issues include ageing power plants, and a transmission and distribution system which had suffered years of neglect and minimal maintenance.
This was also compounded by an unsupported and a continuously under-performing renewable energy sector.
Currently Zimbabwe is generating around 900MW against an estimated demand of around 2000MW.
This is despite the token maintenance of obsolete power stations such as Hwange Power Station and some kind of upgrade being done at Kariba. Hwange is already long overdue for decommissioning.
No amount of maintenance of Hwange will result in an efficient and cost effective electricity generation.
True, the crisis has also been exacerbated by the bad climatic conditions in Southern Africa which have resulted in low rainfall, thus reducing capacity at Kariba Power Station through water rationing by the Zambezi River Authority.
Lack of forward planning and bungling on matters of policy by regional and local energy utilities in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries has also contributed to the crisis. For instance, the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) was formed with good intentions but lack of coordinated effort and cohesive policy, political bickering rendered the institution toothless.
Electricity power deficit in Zimbabwe will not be solved with legislation on usage as the clueless Zanu(PF) Government wants to believe.
Harare alone consumes around 600MW and about 40% of that is consumed by electric geysers for water heating. A recent legislation was fast tracked through parliament to ban use of electric geysers. The idea is to get people to replace geysers with thermal solar heating geysers if they want hot water.
This is a knee jerk reaction. It’s the same as trying to treat a symptom instead of treating the root cause. It also amounts to punishing the people for a problem they didn’t cause.
The legislation does not offer government subsidies or incentives for people to buy the new solar thermal water heaters, or for geyser manufacturing companies like Tregers to be capacitated to meet the demand.
The solution lies in building capacity within the country. Tapping in the abundant gas supplies in the country and building gas power stations, as well as constructing large scale PV power generation plants to bridge the gap, are more viable and cheaper short and mid term solutions to the current crisis. In the long term, incentives such as fed in tariffs should be introduced at domestic level to help relieve the grid and redirect the power to industry and commercial entities.
This can only be achieved by change of policy, technical, institutional, and political support, hinged on a strong commitment by all stakeholders.
Zimfirst Party energy reform policy proposes a new and comprehensive route map to energy survival in Zimbabwe. The policy is rooted in the knowledge and complete understanding of the part played by a solid energy base in the performance of the whole economy.
The policy sets out short and long term plans for reform to mitigate the risks of electricity shortage and large-scale power cuts. It defines priorities and fixed timescales for energy reform and development.
We propose to restructure the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to ensure accountability on policy implementation and planning for all energy resources and cross-cutting issues.
This is a specialised task that requires engagement of all stakeholders and undivided commitment. We also intent to liberate the power generation and distribution as well as reforming the energy market .
The reform programme will promote investment in generation, promote competition in the distribution of energy while improving affordability for consumers.
Our reform policy will provide stakeholders with a comprehensive overview of the reform policy, where the implementation of secondary legislation is laid bare before parliament for debate and adoption.
We will endure that the reform programme is carried out and delivered in an effective, robust, timeous and transparent manner.
It is also a policy which passes the international best practice test in its formulation and implementation, one which has already attracted the interest of several potential investors.
- Dr. Maxwell Zeb Shumba is Zimbabwe First ( ZimFirst) President. He writes in his own capacity.