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ZESA WOES: Strive Masiyiwa Offered To End Power Crisis But This Happened

Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and former chairman of Econet Wireless Global Ltd asserted that if it weren’t for corrupt people looking to get a piece of the national pie, he could have easily resolved the energy crisis in Zimbabwe.

Masiyiwa claims he approached ZESA around 2007, during the hyperinflation era when his mobile communication business was heavily impacted by lack of electricity but was forced to abandon the project as corrupt individuals made ludicrous demands.

Why I hate corruption!

In about 2007, as Zimbabwe lurched into hyper inflation, and foreign currency disappeared, our local management were faced with a big, big problem:

Electrical power!

The cell phone network is one of the biggest single consumer of electricity in the country. Over 10MW distributed nationally. Base stations were collapsing, and service was degrading on a daily basis.

The management travelled to SA to meet the board and discuss an emergency solution:

We brought in experts including many former engineers of the national power company [ZESA] to try and understand what could be done.

There is no problem without a solution, if you bring in the right people!

Finally we came up with a plan, and we asked the CEO of Econet Zimbabwe to present it to the management of ZESA:

The plan would have unlocked over $250m in loans guaranteed by us, and over 500MW of power. It would have seen the country able to build new facilities.

The response from the ZESA management [at the time] was scandalous!

Totally scandalous!

They told us: “since you are not popular with government, they will not listen to you. Let’s form a private company with some of our own executives, and you can lend money to that company secretly!”

One even proposed his brother as a director of such a company!

I was stunned when I heard.

Next we approached the power regulator, and asked for an independent license to produce power. They told us that they had already given licenses to people who had not built, so they could not issue another license, even though they appreciated, we could build!

And guess what?!

The politically connected guys who had licenses were then tipped off, and they came rushing to see us, with the most ludicrous corrupt proposals:

“You provide 100% funding, and give me 51% for free” one demanded.

One guy even flew to SA in a bid to see me personally!

I refused to even see him!

Our board withdrew the efforts, and we just gritted our teeth to weather the storm.

We were forced to shut down large sections of our network.


Strive Masiyiwa

ZESA WOES: Strive Masiyiwa Offered To End Power Crisis But This Happened

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Zimbabwe is currently grappling with power cuts lasting for about 19 hours every day.

Permanent secretary in the ministry of information Nick Mangwana says the government is seized with implementing immediate mitigatory measures to bring normalcy to the ZESA powercuts. Here is what he had to say;

“The power cuts are causing distress, inconvenience and cost to the citizenry and business. This is regrettable. The challenge is affecting part of our region. Govt is seized with implementing immediate mitigatory measures to bring normalcy”.

Government has resorted to importing electricity from neighbouring countries. Nick Mangwana said;

“Are we currently importing electricity? The answer is yes, from South Africa, Zambia and Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM). In this clip, Energy Secretary, Dr Magombo explains how much from each”, he tweeted.

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