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Power Sector Reforms in Zimbabwe: Will Reforms Increase Electrification and Strengthen Local Participation?

Dorcas Kayo

Chief Business Planner

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority


Abstract

Zimbabwe is a developing country currently in the grips of an economic crisis. The power sector has been starved of investments and there is inadequate revenue flow into the country to finance new investment. Internal resources are inadequate to maintain the current system and to finance new investment. Financial and operational performance has deteriorated. Rural electrification is very low with only 18% of the population having access to electricity. The government and the utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), have recognised their inability to meet these challenges and have initiated a reform program in order to open up the power sector to private investors. 

This article analyses the current technical and operational problems faced by the utility and their impact on its financial performance.  In addition, the article reviews the status of electrification in Zimbabwe, and the participation of local private investors in the power sector.  Policy recommendations on how the technical and financial performance of the utility can be enhanced and on how the rate of electrification, especially in rural areas, can be improved are presented. The increased participation of local private sector players into the power industry is a key issue and recommendations are made on how the government can provide incentives to facilitate their effective participation.


Keywords:  PSR, local participation, expanded electrification.

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