By Tatenda Mujeyi
Cabinet has adopted major changes to the operations in the energy sector that include mandatory solar powering, debt sharing and fuel supplier monitoring to seek improvement on the energy challenges.
A major solar programme has been initiated that should see incentivising of solar usage, mandatory solar power for related products as well as tax rebates on solar and related products.
“A large scale programme is being implemented to promote the importation, local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source. In this regard, special incentives shall be provided through duty waivers on imported solar equipment while it shall be mandatory for all new construction projects to be solar powered,” the Chairperson of the Post Cabinet Briefing, Minister of Media Information and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said.
Cabinet also approved a measure that will see mining firms directly purchasing their power from the southern region power pool as well as directly contributing to the energy debt payment.
“Cabinet embraced the commitment by mining companies under the banner of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines to pay a cost recovery electricity tariff to ZESA, and to directly procure extra power supplies from the Southern Africa Power Pool as well as to mobilise a lump sum towards the settlement of the existing power imports debt arrears,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
Cabinet also recommended the speeding up of the completion of the already existing coal bed methane projects.
“We agreed that the implementation of the already existing coal-bed methane gas projects be speeded up in order to provide affordable gas for cooking and heating purposes, thereby reducing reliance on power from the national grid,” the Minister said
Large Victoria Falls resort operators are also expected to endorse the arrangement whereby large Hotels in the Victoria Falls resort town can pay their ZESA bills in foreign currency so as to boost capacity to import power supplies among other measures.
In relation to fuel, Cabinet also recommended the use of monitoring techniques as well as the launch of an application to constantly store data on saboteur tendencies by fuel service station operators.
“There will be the urgent roll-out of the Matsimba Technology, which will enable ZERA to remotely monitor the movement of fuel from the depot to the service station, fuel stocks at service stations, fuel dispensing activities at service stations, and the vehicles involved. A Ministerial statement will soon be issued to spell out the modalities in that regard;” the post cabinet chair said.
Measures to curb against reports that some fuel stations are denying payment in rejecting electronic payments; diverting fuel to the parallel market and dispensing the product to preferred customers were also announced.
“ZERA inspectors should be firmly on the ground and should immediately withdraw operating licences of those service stations caught engaging in the above-indicated malpractices,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
The energy shortages crippling Zimbabwe since election of the ‘second republic’ have seen long winding fuel queues, up to 15 hour daily power blackouts and have been attributed to low water levels at Kariba and constant breakdowns at the Hwange power station.