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Power Cuts in Zimbabwe Worsen As Country Begins Electricity Exports to Namibia

Jan 11, 2008 - BBC Monitoring

Power cuts worsened throughout the country this week after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) started exporting power to Namibia at a time when Mozambican power utilities Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and Electrica de Mocambique suspended supplies to Zimbabwe over a ballooning debt.

Zesa started exporting 40 megawatts of power to Namibia on January 3 under the Nampower contract, a development that created a major power deficit for local consumers.

Zesa spokesman Fullard Gwasira confirmed the export saying it was a contractual obligation on the part of Zesa.

"Nampower met its part of the obligation by availing the loan facility, but like all loans, the conditions stipulated that the debt be amortised by power exports," he said.

"The impact of the exports is minimal but by the end of the project, it will leave Zesa with a refurbished plant and better performing units with a greater electricity generation potential."

Zesa again confirmed that Mozambique has suspended power supplies to Zimbabwe.

"The switching off of power is a credit management option which was available for HCB and they have exercised it," Gwasira said.

Despite Zesa claims that it had reduced its debt, HCB said the outstanding debt has ballooned to US$26 million resulting in the suspension of power supplies.

Zesa last week said it had reduced its debt by US$7million, bringing the amount paid to the power utilities to US$35 million within one and half a months and it was negotiating for an increase in power exports.

Zesa chief engineer Ben Rafemoyo said they were negotiating with suppliers to increase up to 300 megawatts from the 75 megawatts power currently coming from Mozambique.

The development has plunged more than 70 per cent of the country, mostly cities, into darkness. The areas hit worst by the blackouts this week included Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Chitungwiza, Kadoma, Chipinge, Chegutu, Chiredzi and Marondera.

Load shedding has been restricted to residential areas but has now spread to the city centres and industries.

Originally published by Zimbabwe Independent website, Harare, in English 11 Jan 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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