Sunday, February 18, 2018

Eskom debt under control

Livingstone Marufu
ZESA Holdings has whittled down arrears to South Africa’s Eskom, for power imports, to US$25 million from US$44 million in August last year, averting a potential imports cut, which the latter had previously threatened.
This comes as it also emerged that Zesa had also been able to sustain weekly instalments of US$5 million, after an earlier US$12 million once off payment.
Zesa owed over US$100 million in debt and arrears as it struggled to mobilise funding due to the debilitating foreign currency shortages in the country.
Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo said Government had made significant steps towards settling the Eskom debt and arrears.
“We have strong binding agreements with Eskom and we wish to see this relationship working.
“What I can tell you is that everything is under control as far as the Eskom debt is concerned, we are not saying we have paid everything but we have paid the agreed amounts to the South African power utility.
“Zesa, Government and the central bank are working on the issue,” he said.
Minister Khaya Moyo added: “If Eskom says pay 2 cents or US$200 we agree, we shall abide by that to ensure the country has enough electricity supply.
“If there are difficulties in paying we shall also communicate with Eskom, that’s how we do business. If we cannot pay we can get into discussion then we agree on the way forward.
“We do not want to give an impression that there is a crisis between us and Eskom and we continue to have a good working relationship with these people.”
A Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) official disclosed that electricity importations were being allocated $8 million weekly, which is broken down as US$5 million for current imports and US$3 million for debt servicing.
A potentially catastrophic situation was averted after the central bank signed a US$1,5 billion Afreximbank guaranteed nostro stabilisation facility.
The RBZ said that the facility had played a critical role in ensuring that current payments to Eskom were according to plan.
Meanwhile, the country is moving towards electricity self-sufficiency, as it continues to refurbish and construct new substations across the country.
Zimbabwe used to import up to 450MW but is now importing an average of 350MW. Current demand at peak periods stands at 1 400MW against average internal production capacity of just 1 000MW. The country will add 300MW to its power grid by year end, from the extension of Kariba South Power Station, which will reduce imports.
“We want to increase self-sufficiency that is why we are pushing for increased power generation. At the end of the day, it tremendously contributes to economic development,” Minister Moyo said.
“When investors come to Zimbabwe they want to know whether the country has enough power to support the industries, hence we are pushing towards that.
“Following the President’s pronouncements that Zimbabwe is ready for business, there are interests in the energy sector from Japan, Italy, Germany and the UK.”