Power rationing has returned to Zanzibar according to reports received from the Spice Island following a series of technical faults discovered in the setup of the new 100 MW power cable link with the mainland, which was installed earlier in the year.
A source on the island confirmed that the power company has instituted a load shedding schedule which will allocate a greatly reduced electricity supply to households, businesses, restaurants and resorts, all of which now once again rely on their in-house generators or solar power systems, of which not too many have been installed as yet due to the substantial cost of investments.
“There is nothing we can do right now but suffer the consequences. We have learned of some technical faults which are apparently the reason, in the larger cable from the mainland. It worked fine for some time so I am a bit surprised this only came up now and wonder if it truly is the reason behind it. The power company yesterday said they now use the old smaller capacity cable to bring power in from the mainland. This could take until late October and it is costly for the hotels to run generators around the clock. But cooling systems must operate to keep food fresh and air condition in rooms is essential for tourists so there is no option. It is expensive for the hotels because diesel prices are high and there is no tax relief even, we have to pay pump prices. We would hope that in such exceptional cases government could allow for special measures for businesses but they did not listen over our complaints on some of the VAT and other budget issues, so why would they listen now. Households and small businesses are hardest hit because they cannot afford generators,” commented a regular contributor from the main Zanzibar island of Unguja.
Much of Zanzibar’s economy is driven by tourism, besides the more traditional export of spices, and prolonged power rationing is expected to eat deep into the bottom line of hotels, resorts and restaurants already battling a series of negative events in past months which impacted on the island’s reputation as a safe tourism destination.