Massive Load-Shedding Turns Working Schedule Upside Down

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Admire Mugodhi, who runs a small welding enterprise that manufactures door and window frames and an assortment of other metal products, says he has had to change his work routine to fit the load-shedding schedule.

“We only get electricity after 10 at night,” he says as he sets up his equipment in preparation to start work.

“As you can see, all my equipment uses electricity, there is no way I can operate without electricity.

“Since we only get power at night that means I can only work at night.”

He says he now spends his day in bed.

But this seemingly punishing routine has had its downside on his business as walk-in clients dwindle.

And also working at night, he adds, compromises the quality of his products.

David “Diva” Nyandima, who runs a small confectionery enterprise in the same high-density suburb, where he backs, cookies and scones, says he is slowly getting used to the new unfamiliar routine.

“I am yet to get used to working at night,” he says.

“Sometimes I doze off and some of my products get burnt in the oven.

“Products that get burnt obviously have to be thrown away and this is costing me a lot of money.”

What makes his job doubly taxing is that in the afternoon he has to sell his wares.

While some enterprising entrepreneurs have now resorted to using diesel-powered generators and small solar power units, this proposition is a non-starter for power-intensive businesses.

Even for those who use solar and diesel generators, the cost of acquiring them is prohibitive.

The cost of fuel, which is usually acquired from the black market, also remains forbidding.

For Nyararai Muteve – a welder a Highfield’s famous and busy Gazaland Shopping Centre — he has had to switch to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to power his welding machine.

But this comes at a price.

LPG as selling for anything between $13 to $15 per kilogramme, which is more or less his monthly electricity bill.

It puts an extra cost on the business.

The challenges the small businesses are facing are shared across the country.

Informal sector

This has a heavy toll on the informal sector, which is one of the biggest employers in the country.

In 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicated that the country’s informal sector could be the sixth largest in the sub-Saharan region, contributing between 40 percent and 50 percent to economic growth.

SME Association of Zimbabwe founding chairperson Mr Farai Mutambanengwe says most small businesses have taken a hit from the rolling power outages.

“Most small businesses have been forced to work during night-time hours, which does not augur well for business,” says Mr Mutambanengwe.

“Obviously the situation does not bode well for business because if you have no power, then you do not work.

MORE: Sunday Mail

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