Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Government is making plans to invest in solar power at its institutions to alleviate the energy crisis that is being experienced in the country, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi has said.
Responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Chasi said as Government was in the process of settling its electricity debts, efforts were being made to come up with measures to ease the power deficit.
He said the country needs interventions that will help to insulate critical institutions such as schools, hospitals, clinics and mines.
“We just need to get to that point where we stabilise the supply of power. Going forward, we would like as much as possible to disengage. Places like hospitals, we would like our arrangement to take care of hospitals by making sure that we have solar grids on site.
“The talk about generators, they are very expensive. Diesel is also expensive. Hospitals and schools are not awash with money. So, we need to come up with new strategies that help us to generate more power and we would like to go solar,” said Minister Chasi.
He said apart from the shortage of power, the country’s major setback in the provision of electricity was theft of cables and other electrical equipment.
“There are other things that we need to deal with which are compounding our problem, thefts. I am told now we need about 4 000 transformers. A lot of thefts are happening in our constituencies. It’s happening everyday, even in the suburbs, people are now operating in gangs and taking down transformers, oil and copper wires,” said Minister Chasi.
The Government this week paid US$10 million to South African power utility, Eskom, and paid off $20 million to Zesa Holdings to clear its debt.
Zesa Holdings is also expected to get an advance of $20 million from the Government, in a move expected to improve power generation.
Minister Chasi said he was happy that in the next few weeks, given the measures that Government had taken, particularly the payment of $10 million to Eskom, it should be able to unlock more power.
“I have made it very clear to Zesa that the $20 million payment money must be directed towards energy generation, issues of coal for example are very key but equally, we ought to look at the demand side of power.
“We’ll be discussing as well with our Mozambican colleagues to get more power from there but the underlying premise is very simple, we do not pay, we do not have power. So, there is no need for us to be emotional about this issue. We just need to be pragmatic.
“Power is expensive and that is an area that we now need to look at the tariff because the tariff is important for at least two reasons. The first one is viability of Zesa. The second one is that it will make us attractive for investors who want to come and give us power in the various energy mixes that we are choosing,” said Minister Chasi. — @pamelashumba1