TelOne warns of disruptions

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's sole fixed telephone company has warned of a further deterioration of communication services, citing ongoing power cuts and shortages of fuel as seen making it difficult to make or receive calls.
TelOne public relations manager Phil Chingwaru said the shortages had been so disruptive that the parastatal had regularly been forced to temporarily close some of its telephone exchanges.

He said the prolonged power cuts and shortages of diesel are the main reasons behind current difficulties by Zimbabweans to make or receive calls.

“Most of the disruptions are not as a result of network faults but are, therefore, related to the lack of energy resources,” Chingwaru said in a statement.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing rolling power blackouts blamed on the inability of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to meet domestic demand and a critical shortage of foreign currency to import electricity from neighbouring countries.

Domestic power generation by ZESA has been affected by lack of spares and foreign currency to repair ageing equipment at the country’s power stations and inadequate coal supplies.

The country imports about 35 percent of its power needs from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.

ZESA has since May widened its load-shedding programme after regional power utilities reduced exports to Zimbabwe citing unpaid debts.

Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa recently cut supplies to the country from 300 megawatts (MW) to 195 MW over a staggering debt of over US$35 million.

SNEL of the DRC also cut electricity to Zimbabwe in June over non-payment of a $5 million debt.

The TelOne spokesman said back-up generators installed to minimise the effects of power cuts have failed to stem the disruptions due to the shortage of diesel.

“In the absence of electricity, our telephone exchanges use diesel generators and of late there has not been a steady supply of diesel resulting in some exchanges shutting down completely until electricity has been restored,” Chingwaru said.

This comes as Internet service provider M-Web has also informed its clients that they would be unable to browse the Internet at night, citing the high cost of keeping generators running at night to fire its browsers in the event of power cuts. – ZimOnline

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