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Zim negotiates flexible power deal with Eskom

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Zim negotiates flexible power deal with Eskom

HARARE – Zimbabwe has been assured of continued power supply from South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, despite a R500mln (US$38.2mln) debt. Eskom is also currently engaging Zesa Holdings over the extension of the 300MW power import deal which expires soon.

Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge told reporters soon after a courtesy call by Eskom officials currently in the country that the debt to the SA power utility had been declining.

“We have been ensured of continued support from Eskom and the utilities are working out the details. We also discussed the debt issue and since it’s a commercial arrangement, we are going to pay what we owe,” he said.

In terms of the soon to expire power arrangement, ZESA could import up to 300 megawatts depending on the situation in South Africa. Eskom’s average monthly bill is about $7.5 mln for power supply of about 42GWh.

“We discussed areas of mutual concern. As you know, after having a deficit in Zimbabwe – caused by the low water levels in Kariba – we are importing from South Africa… we want a situation whereby we will continue with no load shedding. As you are aware, we have not had load shedding since December 2015 and it is Government’s mandate to ensure steady power supply in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The arrangement which was guaranteed by Government initially entailed that ZESA pays about $7 mln upfront per month, before negotiating a more flexible weekly instalment estimated at around $1.7 mnl due to foreign payments challenges.

“That is why we encourage customers to pay their billd. There are various modalities of payment and, as Zimbabwe, we are going to honour our payments to Eskom,” he said.

Undenge said deliberations between the two utilities should culminate into stronger bilateral energy collaboration on a long term basis.

Zimbabwe’s power demand currently stands at 1 400MW against average production of 1 000MW

He said South Africa and Zimbabwe belong to the Southern Africa Power Pool which is a trading platform which ensures that when one country runs short of power, it gets from others with excess power.

Apart from Eskom, Zimbabwe also imports power from Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa. As of December last year, debt owed to HCB amounted to $9 mln. HCB average monthly bill is $2.6 mln for energy of about 63GWh.

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