July 18, 2019

Zimbabweans look for solutions in the dark

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Patience Nhamburo
ZIMBABWEAN businesses and households are having to change their routines as the Southern African country battles a crippling power crisis.

Most parts of the country are going for 18 hours a day without electricity and industries, small businesses and households are feeling the pain.

While others are contemplating closing shops some resilient entrepreneurs are busy finding ways of getting around the power cuts.

The affected businesses and households have turned to gas, firewood and generators.

But these do not come cheap, with a kilogramme of gas going for RTGS$15, while a litre of petrol goes for RTGS$6.10 and diesel is RTGS$5.80.

For lighting, the business operators are using cellphone torches in their shops whenever there is a blackout.

Point of Sale Machines are usually down because of the blackouts, making it difficult to transact in an economy where cash is not readily available.

Pastor Mapiye who operates a cellphone business at the Warren Park 1 Shopping Complex in the capital, Harare says operating costs have shot up due to power outages.

“We are experiencing power cuts for most parts of the day here in Warren Park and that is a big blow to our businesses,” he said.

“At least some big industries can turn to generators, but as for us, we are still small, so we cannot afford to use generators for long periods.”

But business is booming for fire wood vendors.

Stanley Sithole, a wood merchant, says the power cuts are boosting his business, although he sympathizes with his fellow businessmen who run butcheries.

A pile of wood with four sticks costs RTGS$4, a princely price in a country where the average monthly income is RTGS$300, which is about US$37.

Tsungai Machiridze a butchery owner is disappointed.

“My business has been affected. We have had to throw away meat which would have gone bad because of the continuous power cuts, we are suffering big losses,” Machiridze said.

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