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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 February 2017


The power supply debacle


One of the major drivers of every economy is the constant supply of electricity. The resource allows industry and businesses, in general, to run their machinery and equipment at optimum capacity to produce goods for local consumption or for export.

Its persistent supply, therefore, ensures predictability of revenue, first to the private sector and then to the government through taxes and other levies due the state.

Beyond helping big businesses to continue with their operations, power supply also helps those at the lower end of the bracket such as tailors, barbers and small shop owners, who heavily rely on electricity, to run their businesses.

For residents, it helps to ensure peace, as homes are lit and that prevents robbers, to a large extent, from launching attacks.

In the last couple of weeks, however, the country has been experiencing some intermittent power outages. These occurrences happen at specific times of the day and have been persistent.

This unfortunate situation has brought back bitter memories of the ‘dumsor’ era, where electricity was in short supply and that forced many companies to either shut down or drastically reduce their production capacities.

Others were forced to lay off staff in a bid to cut down on high operational expenses amid dwindling returns.

At the time, the past administration blamed the development on lagged generation in the midst of increasing consumption capacity, something the current administration rebuffed while in opposition.

Instead of blaming it on demand for electricity outstripping supply, the opposition at the time said the power challenge was due to the fact that the country lacked money to procure fuel to power the various plants.

Today, however, we are having challenges with regular power supply and we expect the government and the utility companies to give us a comprehensive picture of the energy situation so that everybody can plan accordingly.

While at it, the GRAPHIC BUSINESS will want to stress that the inconsistency in churning out information regarding what the real cause of this unfortunate issue does not help the private sector and the economy in general.

As a well-endowed nation with a pool of human resource, we strongly advocate that we should move away from the era when managers of the power sector were extremely economical with the truth regarding power outages.

The truth must be told as to what the real issue is because it will allow users, particularly industry, to plan and schedule their production.

It will also allow them to estimate how much will be required to buy and maintain their generating plants rather than having to plan based on grid supply from a national distributor that fails at the last minute.

The paper believes that transparency with information will help the country as a whole, and efforts need to be made to ensure that the truth is told.