Daily power blackouts in Harare

HARARE - Blackouts have returned to haunt power-starved Zimbabweans amid a deepening power shortage caused by intermittent breakdowns at the archaic national power station, a regional power deficit and increased demand by industries re-opening after the holidays.
Urban families are turning

to firewood for cooking and heating. Household electricity goods are getting damaged as the power utility sometimes pumps freak electrical surges after restoration of supplies.
The state-run Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) said the power utility had to resort to “massive load-shedding on a rotation basis” following a breakdown on some of the six generators at the Hwange power depot and cable theft on a line bringing electricity from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A crippling foreign currency crisis has hampered the rehabilitation and expansion of the Kariba South and the Hwange Power Stations. The loss-making power utility is currently producing only 550 megawatts instead of the installed capacity of 920 megawatts.
ZESA made a loss of Z$8 trillion by December last year. The power utility is currently saddled with debts in excess of US$330 million.
Zimbabwe imports 40 percent of its power needs, with 100 megawatts a month from the DRC, 200 megawatts from Mozambique and up to 450 and 300 megawatts from South Africa and Zambia respectively. ZESA is currently in talks with Mozambique to ramp its imports to 300 megawatts. Its also negotiating for increased imports from DRC to 150 megawatts and another 300 megawatts from Zambia.
Imports were expected to stop in 2007 due to an anticipated power deficit across southern Africa resulting from increased demand.
In December, the populous township of Chitungwiza, south-east of Harare, was plunged in darkness for two weeks due to technical problems at a local power station.

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