By Bernard Mpofu
Corruption, antiquated equipment and failure to invest in new technologies has been cited by analysts as among major reasons stifling Zimbabwe’s energy needs
Zimbabwe which is battling rolling power outages due to antiquated equipment has in the past crafted several energy policies to ease the perennial energy crisis.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, four out of the five main power stations are antiquated and there is need to invest in new energy projects.
This year, the government launched a new Renewable Energy policy which seeks to boost the country’s power generation capacity.
Zimbabwe Power Company is currently generating less than half of its daily power requirements of 2,300MW. To offset the balance, the government is now splurging millions of dollars in electricity imports from South Africa and Mozambique.
According to corruption watchdog, Transparency International, corruption, bribery, theft and other illicit financial flows cost developing countries, Zimbabwe included, US$1.26 trillion per year. This is roughly the combined size of the economies of Switzerland, South Africa and Belgium.
Analysts contend that corruption also continues to hold back Zimbabwe’s development agenda as well as investment in key infrastructure projects such as energy.
Zimbabwe’s energy sector has a plethora of cases where renewable energy projects have been put on hold due to alleged corruption and red tape within the public sector. Even worse, some have been written off from the plans.
In 2013, the Harare City Council (HCC) received a 350,000 Euros grant from the European Union under the Non-State actors funding to establish a 100kw biogas in Harare’s high-density suburb of Mbare. That project has not taken off nearly four years after its planned date of completion.
HCC public relations officer, Innocent Ruwende, said the contractor, Synlak, had failed to meet the agreed timelines and the local authority is now seeking redress.
“The contract has since been cancelled and the matter is going through arbitration,” Ruwende said.
Controversial Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo’s company Intratrek, which in 2015 was awarded a tender for the 100MW Gwanda solar project in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland Province, and paid US$5 million by ZESA, the country’s power utility, for pre-commencement work, is yet to complete the multi-million dollar project.
Last July, Energy minister Fortune Chasi, was quoted in local media saying the government had suffered a potential revenue loss of nearly US$50 million as a result of non-completion of the project which was supposed to be commissioned by December 2017.