Zimbabwe is currently witnessing its worst rolling blackout in three years. This was made known by Zimbabwe’s state power utility company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) who noted that the power cuts would start from Monday, May 13 and would last up to eight hours during morning and evening peak periods.
“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand,” ZETDC said in a public notice.
Rolling blackouts also known as rotating outages are systematic, temporary power outages that help bring balance to the supply and demand of electricity in the market. Rolling blackouts are typically the last step in a series of emergency procedures after a power supply shortage is detected in the market.
Zimbabwe’s decision to rotate outages comes a year after former president Robert Mugabe was ousted after more than three decades of being in power. His Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who became president is yet to perform better, despite appointing a former lecturer at the London School of Economics Mthuli Ncube as the country’s finance and Economic Development minister.
In an effort to revive Zimbabwe’s economy, the new finance minister announced a “stabilisation programme” to the dismay of Zimbabweans who had hopes that the country would emerge from turmoil and return to prosperity.
Life is now harder in Zimbabwe as prices of everything, including food, fuel and medicine have increased. The current power cut will further dampen the hope of many Zimbabweans as it would affect both household and industries which includes mines.
According to Isaac Kwesu, chief executive of Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines, “Mining requires electricity for both operations and safety. It will be very costly to have production stoppages, that is why we will be engaging ZETDC to find ways to minimize any costly disruptions due to the electricity cuts.”
On previous blackouts, some mines in Zimbabwe resorted to importing electricity from neighbouring countries. In 2006, the southern African country imported over 40 percent of its power – 100 megawatts was imported monthly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 200 megawatts from Mozambique and up to 450 and 300 megawatts from South Africa and Zambia respectively.
Currently, the country is producing 969 MW daily against a peak demand of 2,100 MW and it is entering its peak winter power demand season, which will increase electricity consumption. Meanwhile, as of 2018, mining accounted for more than two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s $4.8 billion in total export earnings, meaning that any power cuts in the sector will affect production and exports.