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ELECTRICITY CRISIS – VICTORIA FALLS HOTELS GUARANTEED ELECTRICITY, BUT…

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VICTORIA Falls Hotels have been assured uninterrupted supply of electricity as a way for them to remain operational. However, the hospitality properties will be required to pay electricity bills in foreign currency.

This was said by Zimbabwe information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-cabinet press briefing.

The move is set to improve power
utility company, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), capacity to
import energy.

“To alleviate the situation on
the power supply front, Cabinet resolved as follows: to endorse the arrangement
whereby large Hotels in the Victoria Falls resort town can pay their ZESA bills
in foreign currency so as to boost capacity to import power supplies,” said
Mutsvangwa.

Zimbabwe is currently facing a severe power crisis in decades even though the country has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to meet demand. Since attaining independence in 1980, the land-locked country has been relying on hydropower and thermal electricity generation.

Due to worn-out equipment at its thermal station, falling water levels and lack of capital investment in the sector, the country is facing power deficits with households and industry alike going for up to 16 hours a day without power.

With the capacity of producing 2
000 megawatts (MW) and demand standing at 1 500MW. The country’s power
generation from its hydropower station in Kariba, Hwange (thermal), Munyati
(thermal), Harare (thermal), and Bulawayo (thermal) is only generating a total
1 200MW.

Why Victoria Falls Hotels?

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Victoria Falls has remained as one of Africa’s top-famous resort towns. Victoria Falls, a genuine bucket-list destination, is home to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry, and despite the country’s political issues, it’s always been a safe spot for tourists and locals are exceptionally friendly.

The Hospitality of Zimbabwe (HAZ)
President, Mr. Innocent Manyera, told Yedu Lani that “It will be to the
advantage if there are also exempting power cuts to the town. This will make
sure operational challenges are reduced and tourists enjoy their stay within Zimbabwe.”

Africa Albida Tourism Chief Executive Ross Kennedy welcomed the move saying they await finer details.

“As a destination, we are very pleased to have received a positive response to our lobbying of Ministry and Government in respect of some exemptions to load shedding programs. We await the details and modalities.”

In 2018, the tourist hub experienced growth with an overall 20 percent increase in revenue and 18 properties being developed since the start of the year. According to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy and Advisory Services Department update, Victoria Falls recorded an average occupancy rate of 44% in March 2018 up from 37% in January, attributing this growth to international arrivals of 75% of the occupancies in the town being a foreign tourist, who are largely business and leisure tourists.

Positive trends of the resort town have been hinged on lodges and hotel upgrades as well as most to the enhanced accessibility through the upgrading of the Victoria Falls International Airport, as more direct flights continue to reach the town.

However, industry leaders say the move could be a “win-win” affair if Government also allows for hotels in the province to charge local tourists in foreign currency. “What needs to be done is to also let hotels be allowed to receipt in foreign currency for both locals and foreigners. Also for the tourism capital, Victoria falls; let it be exempted from load shedding after being compelled to pay electricity in foreign currency,” Manyera told 263Chat Business in an interview.

Crisis Resolve

Zimbabwe still plans to engage
with South Africa’s power utility Eskom in an effort to boost electricity
imports.

“Cabinet also wishes to advise
the nation that discussions with Eskom (South Africa’s power utility) are
continuing, with a view to unlocking power supplies imports therefrom,” said
Mutsvangwa.

Zimbabwe wants to boost power imports from its neighbor across Limpopo, which had been curtailed due to non-payment. But to do so it will need to first work out a payment plan for the estimated $33m it owes the South Africa power utility.

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