By Kudzai Kuwaza
Hotels in Victoria Falls are reeling from the current power outages that have forced them to use generators for hours as cuts intensify, businessdigest has established.
This has seen operating costs rising further for hotel operators in the area.
The power shortages stem from low water levels at Kariba Dam. In addition, the curtailment of power imports from Eskom South Africa and Mozambican power utility Hydro Electrica de Cahorra Bassa has resulted in widespread load shedding which has had an adverse impact on business.
Hoteliers who spoke to businessdigest this week said they had to procure fuel, a commodity that is in short supply, to run generators for their hotels as they are experiencing power cuts that run up to 12 hours a day.
“We need 20 litres an hour to run our generator which is 240 litres for the time when there is no power. When you consider that fuel is now nearly RTGS$5 a litre, it means we need RTGS$1 200 to buy fuel every time we experience power outages which is a huge cost we had not factored into our operations,” a hotelier in the resort town said. “A hotel with 200-plus rooms will need 90 litres an hour for 12 hours on any given day without power translating to 1 080 litres a day which means the hotel will need RTGS$5 400 to buy fuel for a day without power.”
He said what worsens the situation is the fuel shortage countrywide, which means that they are forced to source at a premium from the black market at extortionate prices.
“On one hand, we need to buy fuel but on the other hand, the fuel is not readily available. It is a Catch 22 situation,” the hotelier bemoaned.
This flies in the face of government efforts to boost tourism after years of isolation due to a negative perception and toxic relationship with western countries.
Economist and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive Christopher Mugaga said the power outages have a damaging effect on the country’s efforts to lure investment.
“The power outages to businesses and households has a very negative impact which probably confirms the negative growth predicted by the IMF and the World Bank,” Mugaga said. “The foremost impact is not on the cost but on the uncertainty that this creates,” he said.
“This has elevated the country’s risk profile due to poor management of the energy sector. It is pushing away the appetite of investment in Zimbabwe.”