Zimbabwe is paying debt to EDM, Zambia is not

Maputo Dec (AIM) – The Zimbabwean electricity company ZESA is paying off its debt to its Mozambican counterpart, EDM, in equipment rather than cash, according to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

Cited by the paper, the chairperson of the EDM Board of Directors, Mateus Magala, said that by the end of the year EDM expects to receive 200 new transformers from ZESA in part payment of the debt. In all, ZESA should send EDM 500 transformers in order to pay off the debt completely.

Magala did not put a figure on ZESA’s debt, but said it was not very worrying. In total, EDM’s clients owe the company about 100 million US dollars. The greater part of this, 57 million dollars, is owed by the Zambian electricity company, ZESCO.

“We have been trying to recover the debt from ZESCO for about two years”, said Magala, “but it is impressive the way that some African countries lack any discipline towards the rules of the game”.

He praised ZESA which, unlike the Zambian company, was making a serious effort to pay off its debt to EDM.

“Since ZESA always showed that it wanted to pay the debt, we ended up reaching an agreement with them under which, since they produce transformers locally, we could accept equipment for our company in lieu of payment, and that’s what is happening”, said Magala.

Looking at the broader southern African picture, Magala was concerned at the surplus of electricity in South Africa.

A few years ago South Africa was chronically short of electricity, which led to rolling power cuts. The situation is now very different, and South Africa has a surplus of 7,000 megawatts, Magala blamed this on the slowdown in the South African economy, which has led to the closure of several industries.

Magala was concerned that South Africa is dumping its surplus on the region, to the prejudice of other electricity suppliers, including Mozambique.

ZESA also buys power from Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company which operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river in the western Mozambican province of Tete. A source in HCB told AIM that ZESA cleared its debt to HCB in August.

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