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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 17:40 GMT
Zimbabwe power cuts 'to worsen'
African boy doing his homework by candlelight (ęPractical Action/Crispin Hughes')
Some areas are already experiencing daily black-outs
Power cuts already blighting Zimbabwe are set to get worse because of a lack of coal supplies for electricity generators, state-run media reports.

The state electricity provider is also reported to be unable to pay its debts to suppliers and transport companies.

Coal-fired stations in the capital, Harare, and in the second city, Bulawayo, have already been shut down.

Zimbabwe's main external power provider South Africa says it has temporarily halted supplies for maintenance work.

"I would like to bring to the attention of all consumers that the current load shedding due to supply shortfall is set to worsen," head of the power regulatory commission, Mavis Chidzonga, was quoted in Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail as saying.

'Precarious'

She warned that electricity production at the Hwange facility servicing north-west Zimbabwe may also have to be reduced due to the shortages.

She said the recent coal shortages had been made worse by the state electricity provider's inability to pay its debts to suppliers and transporters.

The government has previously refused to approve inflation-linked hikes in electricity fees.

But Ms Chidzonga said management reforms and massive tariff increases were needed to address what she called the country's "precarious" power situation.

She told the newspaper they were trying to obtain additional supplies from Zambia. But BBC correspondents say this is unlikely as drought is affecting that country's hydro-electric power service.

Harare is already experiencing daily black-outs. The country's regular cuts in power and water supplies are blamed on acute shortages in hard currency, gasoline and imported spare parts.

The country imports around 40% of its power from South Africa, DR Congo and Mozambique.


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