Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Zimbabwe’s energy crisis

Zimbabwe’s energy crisis

Vince Musewe
28 August 2012

Vince Musewe says country stopped investing in new generation capacity in 

Zimbabwe energy crisis: African solutions to an African problem?

Government has a reputation of structuring policy around individuals and no 
wonder why for 28 years, we have had free riders in the energy ministry.

A couple of weeks back, the Minister of Energy, Elton Mangoma, informed us 
on what he is doing to fix the energy crisis in Zimbabwe. I have studied his 
speech and must comment on it especially on his short term solutions.

I note that it is since 1984, that Zimbabwe stopped investing in new 
generation capacity in the energy sector. That was only 4 years after 
independence meaning that for 28 years, no body anticipated that the system 
would someday break down or be inadequate to meet our needs. This means that 
for 28 years, even though we have had a minister occupying the energy 
portfolio, he has been getting paid for doing nothing. Well there is no 
revelation in that statement.

Now hear this, the Hwange power station has been operating much below 
capacity (between 300 and 500MW) out of a potential capacity of 900MW. Those 
responsible for fixing the problem forgot to fix ancillary machinery while 
focusing on the rotor and now that the rotor is fixed, they must still 
attend to the ancillary equipment. As a result we still have low capacity 
utilization of the power station.

Clearly we have had serious mismanagement from all those involved including 
ZESA. The minister alludes to this fact whether ZESA is likely be an 
acceptable partner in the purchasing of solar generated power from 
independent power producers. In my opinion, the old model with ZESA in the 
middle has caused so much pain for everyone and its time we came up with 
innovative and more efficient distribution model especially for solar power 
generation and distribution. In my view restructuring and chunking ZESA, as 
the minister announced, will not change the nature of the beast. It merely 
means we will have more egos involved more perks to pay and more jobs for 

On the issue of solar panels for homes, I think that it is a good idea to 
ensure that these are affordable. I do think however, that we continue to 
seriously under rate the solar power solution. We need to be more aggressive 
in the use of solar power both for residential and industrial use.

For example, the ministry of energy can put in an incentive for homes to 
convert. For example, write off an agreed cost of a home solar power system 
against any debt owed to ZESA or provide a subsidy? We could also make it 
law that any new residential developments must have solar water heating 
systems as water heating is a significant cost. Where possible, we must 
encourage homes to be completely off grid thus reducing the demand at all 
times and not just during the day as the minister suggests.

In the case of companies, they can invest in solar power plants and be able 
to, for example, get tax benefits for doing so or sell that power back to 
the grid.

On the issue if locally manufactured solar lamps for US$10, which is 
commendable because I have seen some imported lamps being sold for US$ 40! 
There has been significant profiteering in this sector and we need to 
intervene and save the poor from unscrupulous suppliers. We must encourage 
local manufacture of these and create jobs as the minister intends.

Prepaid meters result in energy saving while improving cash flow for power 
suppliers. Al though they are not that easy to manage for those that are 
unable to budget and do not have consistent income, which is the case for 
most Zimbabweans, they remove doubt and suspicions as long as the company 
that manages them is a credible one. Minister, why did we have to include 
foreign companies in this process? Surely there are enough qualified 
Zimbabweans who can run prepaid meter platforms?

There is still some education necessary when it comes to domestic use of 
gas. I noted that those in the townships re reverting to paraffin which is 
sad development. Again here I see that a Zambian has been appointed to 
assist us? There are millions of qualified Zimbabwean engineers in the 
Diaspora who can surely do the research and come up with the necessary 

Overall I think the minister has done his home work but it is very important 
that we find quick short term solutions and he cannot do this on his own 
without users contributing to save energy.

The fundamental challenge we face is that of information and awareness 
within our communities on the importance of energy to our well being as a 
country. Energy saving must be a community driven campaign and I see nothing 
on that front in the ministers plans.

Last but not least is the use of CFLs’ in Zimbabwe. I am led to believe that 
these contain mercury and are harmful to the environment. LED lighting is 
the new way and shouldn’t we go that route now to avoid unnecessary future 

I do hope that in the event that if the minister is promoted in the future, 
we do get some continuity in policy on whoever takes over. Government has a 
reputation of structuring policy around individuals and no wonder why for 28 
years we have had free riders in the ministry.

Vince Musewe is an independent economist currently in Harare and you may 
contact him on [email protected] 


107MW solar plant for Hwange

107MW solar plant for Hwange   12/7/2019 The Chronicle Pride Mahlangu, Business Reporter INDEPENDENT power producer, Power Ventures (Private) Limited, has applied for a licence

Read More »

New Posts: