According to a recent article in Zimbabwe’s largest daily newspaper, The Herald, Eskom has “relaxed its demands” for Zesa Holdings to pay in advance for the electricity it receives from South Africa.
Demand for electricity is greater than what Zesa Holdings, the Zimbabwe state-owned power utility, is able to supply, mainly because of limited generation capacity as many of the power generation plants have exceeded their lifespans. Eskom exports 50 MW of electricity during peak periods of demand and up to 300 MW during off peak periods to Zimbabwe.
Eskom requested that Zesa Holdings pay for electricity – an average of around $6.5 million per month – ahead of supply. Owing to financial constraints the bill has been paid in weekly instalments and The Herald now understands that Zesa Holdings prepays weekly whenever finances are available.
Secretary for energy, Patson Mbiriri, is quoted as saying, “To the extent that foreign currency is available, we are importing on the basis of a prepayment arrangement, but Eskom has not been insisting on its pound of flesh” and not does request upfront payment at every turn.
Zesa Holdings also imports electricity from Zambia. To enable the company to mobilise resources to clear debt for importing electricity, Zesa Holdings has requested that industry pay for electricity in advance.
Zimbabwe is able to generate 1 000 MW but requires on average about 1 400 MW. Generation capacity is hampered at the Kariba South power station owing to low water levels in the dam. Difficulties in electricity supply in Zimbabwe should be short lived as there are a number of new power generation projects, at various stages of development, in the pipeline. These include renewable energy generation such as hydro and solar projects.