Late last year Zimbabweans who spent much of last year in the dark were offered a glimmer of hope. According to the usually uncommunicative Minister of Energy, Soda Zhemu, load-shedding would soon be drastically reduced as Hwange’s new power-generating Unit 7 would be coming online increasing the country’s power-generating capacity. There was a lot of cheer as the Unit finally joined the grid in March 2023 but those promises have not turned into tangible benefits. Most Zimbabwean neighbourhoods are still going through and astounding 18 hours of load-shedding a day just like before.
What does not make sense though is the fact that, according to ZPC, the power generating arm of ZESA that has failed Zimbabweans so many times, Zimbabwe has been producing a steady 1 000+ Mega Watts of power over the past couple of weeks.
That represents about 59.5% of Zimbabwe’s summer energy needs which are estimated to be around 1 800 MW. There is a piece of crucial missing information though from that graphic provided by ZPC. It does not show the total energy imports the country has been making on a daily basis. The graphic used to show this information and it’s not clear why they removed the Imports field. That field is important because it would have allowed us to see exactly how much power is available to the country. All we have wild and unspecific pronouncements by government officials with imported power estimates going as high as 400 MW going by some reports.
The numbers are not adding up
If we assume that Zimbabwe is importing 400 MW of power it means we have about 1 470 MW of power or an astounding 81% of the power we need. We should be seeing a drastic reduction in load shedding even if we were not importing anything. Tentative evidence on the ground does not seem to support this. Most neighbourhoods in Harare are still spending as much time in the dark as they were before. Even areas that seemed to get less load-shedding in times past are being subjected to harsh and drastic load-shedding.
- Areas like the Southerton Industrial area
- Granite side industrial area
- Siyaso in Mbare
- Large swathes of Harare CBD
It does not seem like there has been a change in the power supply. This does not seem to be an issue with old units at Hwange being broken down at all. We are talking about the fact that if we assume demand is 1 800 MW and we are already producing 1 070 MW there should be a visible improvement in the country’s power situation but it does not seem like there is.
We need a load-shedding schedule
It would have been easy to get a national picture of Zimbabwe’s power situation if only ZESA could be bothered to produce a load-shedding schedule. They have stubbornly refused to do so claiming there is not enough power to produce a schedule which is one of the most ridiculous excuses I have ever heard. The only reason why a schedule should be prepared is that there is not enough power. Not having enough power is the reason to prepare a schedule and not a reason not to prepare one. Like all state-owned enterprises in Zimbabwe ZESA is often left to its own incompetent means and it is highly unlikely that the government will change that unless there is an uproar. The sad thing is ZESA is obviously lying, they already have a load-shedding schedule, they just don’t want to share it with the public.
Someone is getting all the power
Now back to trying to make sense of the numbers. There are two possible reasons why Zimbabwe’s electricity situation has not improved. One it’s either demand has drastically risen somewhere and it’s no longer 1 800 MW or those power generating numbers are cooked up. It seems very unlikely that ZESA would make up their power-generating numbers though. Which leaves us with only one possible reason. Someone somewhere is getting all the power and again because we have no schedule we cannot tell who. That theory is given credence by rumours that there are some new power-hungry mines somewhere owned by politically exposed (PE) who are getting priority power from ZESA. Now it’s just a rumour but the numbers seem to confirm this rumour.
I cannot say if it’s true or not but I can tell you one thing. ZESA’s numbers do not add up, either demand is no longer the 1 800 MW that they keep harping about or they are just cooking up power-generating figures. It’s just a matter of which of the lie is true. ZESA has a history of not sharing information with the nation. Every bit of information has to be pried out of them each time.
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