Zimbabwe to cut power to mines, others over $77m in unpaid bills

Daily power cuts lasting up to 18 hours are common after a severe drought reduced water levels at a key hydro plant.

    On Thursday, Zimbabwe was generating 688 MW of electricity, less than half its peak demand, official figures showed [File: Philimon/Reuters]
    On Thursday, Zimbabwe was generating 688 MW of electricity, less than half its peak demand, official figures showed [File: Philimon/Reuters]

    Zimbabwe's state-owned electricity distributor, grappling with drought and ageing equipment, has said it will disconnect mines, farms and other users as it looks to recover $77m in unpaid bills.

    The announcement on Thursday came as the southern African nation is experiencing daily power cuts lasting up to 18 hours after a severe drought reduced water levels at the country's biggest hydro plant.

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    The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is also being hampered by ageing coal-fired electricity generators which constantly break down.

    ZETDC said in a public notice it was owed 1.2bn Zimbabwe dollars ($77m) and it was targeting to recover the money from mining, agriculture, commercial and domestic users.

    Defaulters should "settle their electricity bills without any further delay to avoid the inconvenience associated with power being disconnected," ZETDC said as it steps up its revenue collection efforts.

    The Chamber of Mines, which represents big platinum and gold producers and other miners, said its members were paying for power supplies in dollars to guarantee supply. They will not be affected by the disconnections, chamber CEO Isaac Kwesu said.

    On Thursday, Zimbabwe was generating 688 MW of electricity, less than half its peak demand, official figures showed.

    The country imports up to 400 MW from South Africa and Mozambique when they have spare capacity.

    Earlier this month, Zimbabwe hiked its average electricity tariff by 320 percent to increase power supplies, angering consumers already grappling with soaring inflation and the country's worst economic crisis in a decade.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency