Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Debt-laden power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) is allowing customers to pay their bills in foreign currency as it struggles to fund the nation’s power imports.

Zesa said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday that the decision would bring consumers more “convenience”. Previously, only miners and exporters were allowed to pay for power supplies in US dollars and other foreign currencies.

The country generates less than half of its own electricity and relies on imports from SA and Mozambique for the rest. Local production has been hit by a drought that shuttered the main hydropower plant and by frequent breakdowns at its coal-fired Hwange facility.

The government has gradually opened more of the struggling economy to foreign transactions since the start of a virus lockdown in March, backtracking on an earlier decision to make the Zimbabwe dollar the sole legal tender. Citizens can now use US dollars for food shopping, fuel, toll fees and passports.

The move has undermined demand for the Zimbabwe dollar, sending its value down to 81.73 to the US dollar.

The utility said the exchange rate from a weekly foreign auction system would be used to settle consumers’ electricity bills.

Bloomberg

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