There are companies whose business models dictate that there is functional electricity for them to produce and sell their products and services. These are some of the businesses that are affected by the crippling power cuts that are being experienced in the country.
Home Industry Businesses like Carpentry and Welding and Sewing
According to IMF, almost 60% of Zimbabwe’s economy is informal. This means our economy is driven possibly more by these people that make furniture and weld and make clothes and other things informally for a living. Passing through Mupedzanhamo Traffics lights on Saturday, the traffic lights by that corner were not working an indication that there was no power around that area unless the traffics lights malfunctioned.
The biggest informal industry in Harare is in that area. Siyaso/Magaba. Some of those guys rely on electricity to make most of their famous wares which Zimbabwe value so greatly. Speaking to one guy from Magaba in Mbare the chap said
Haa pakaipa tiri kushanda mahusiku mazuva ano ( we are working at night because of the power situation)
This may seem like an option but we all know working at night in poor lit areas can lead to 2 if not 3 things:
- Decreased efficiency during the day
- Poor or substandard work because of lack of visibility and fatigue
- Health problems of various nature caused by the working conditions in open air, in winter, at night.
All through the capital many informal jobs that need electricity that operate outside the industrial areas and the CBD where power cuts are minimal are highly affected. Gazaland and Kuwadzana Home industry and many more industries have been hit the hardest by the power situation in the country. Some have power back up like generators which also need scarce petrol or diesel this means the cost of production has wildly gone up. The cost of production then affects the price which then affects demand. It’s a sad scenario altogether.
Of late network has been a problem in Zimbabwe. This cuts into communication one of the things that should work properly as it is one of the various microeconomic drivers of a functional economy. I as an individual always have network problems when I visit my favourite place in Harare Kuwadzana Extension where the internet is so bad at some instances it takes a while to download a picture on WhatsApp.
Telecoms have complained about the cost of running the network. One engineer that spoke to me as an individual said:
Those booster batteries dont last that long. 16 hours is too much. We are supposed to then use generators, but there are hundreds of those boosters across the country the cost of running the netwoek on a daily basis becomes too much for us. Sometimes there are some boosters that are supposed to beam network to other boosters the moment its affected all other downstream boosters stop working simultaniously.
This actually affects service delivery which also affects the quality and quantity of our communication as a nation. Money is lost because of poor communication, revenue is lost because of people resort to other means of communicating. Cumulatively the situation may cause other problems.
Internet Service Providers
These guys may use satellites and power back up etc to provide their passive services. Their biggest hit is on revenue. Most of their household customers are in darkness for 16-18 hours a day and that means the rate of subscribing to the internet that is only used at night will decrease if the power situation remains like this or continue to deteriorate. Subscriptions might take a knock as people decide to find other alternatives to prepaid internet.
DSTV customers just like consumers of the internet also rely on the availability of electricity. This means, since most households only have power during the normal sleeping times, very few people will see the need to subscribe for entertainment that they can only access after 10 PM where programming is not at its best and people are tired from a long day at work.
There is a joke circulating on social media where people are laughing at their electricity bills.
(If electricity worth $5 is lasting me 2 months, then that means the economy is on the mend) Of course, we know that’s not the case. There is no mending that is taking place is people only spend $5 on electricity unlike in the previous months when they were spending between 30 and 100 for 2 months.
This means households have started consuming less electricity meaning the number of electricity purchases have dwindled. Once again ZESA is hit the hardest by the problem of cutting power as its revenue from prepaid customers mainly households of which 90% are on the prepaid grid have been affected.
All those shops that are out of the CBD operating in residential areas where power cuts are rife are also working on backup power. This means your favourite supermarket operating close to your house where there is no electricity for 16 hours a day is also affected.
The cost of running these shops in my opinion on a daily basis for 8 hours is immense in some instances. Imagine powering those freezers and chillers and those ovens and all for 12 hours every day. The resources that get into that. Statistics show that OK has 8 Bon Marche Branches all outside the CBD in Harare. Most of these are affected by the power cuts meaning they all have to run using generators for the duration of the 12 hours they are open.
OK supermarkets, as well as Pick n Pay supermarkets and all other huge retailing supermarkets like Choppies N Richards, Gain etc outside the CBD, may also be facing challenges as they have to search for fuel to power their operations every other day. These also have been hit the hardest by the situation prevailing in the country.