‘Electricity is always available here’: How Zimbabwe’s Iron Men ran out of power | Global expansion

Steam billows from a hissing iron inside a grimy apartment in the center of Mbale, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest towns.

At 7am, 42-year-old Nhamo Chari rushes to iron a client’s clothes before the power goes out.

“We have electricity here all the time. Luckily we have power today around 7am. It usually starts at 5am and comes back in the evening,” Chari says.

Zimbabwe is rocking catastrophic power shortage From May when winter begins. Some of the country’s aging power plants are undergoing repairs, while others are struggling to meet the growing demand.

The country has a capacity of about 2,240 megawatts, but currently produces only 1,300 megawatts.

People in Mbale, south of the capital Harare, routinely live without electricity for more than 17 hours a day.

Supply shortages have hit Mbale’s ironing business, and it’s becoming a popular hustle in the suburbs as unemployment and inflation soar nationwide.

Chari’s income has dropped from $20 to $3 a day. Photo: Nyasha Chingono

About 60 people run a business in an apartment complex in Matapi, Mubarrel, earning $100 (£83) a week before the blackout. They support the region’s booming secondhand clothing industry. Chari and his colleagues are inundated with orders from thrift stores who want their items ironed before they can be sold.

“Individual traders and businesses, especially those that manufacture school uniforms, give us work. It depends, but I make at least $20 a day,” he says.

But because of the power outage, Chari, who started ironing when she lost her job eight years ago, now earns only $3 a day.

“Things are tough. Electricity is the biggest issue here and there is no real timetable. He added that he was able to send his two children to school with the money he earned from the business.

To generate income, Chari runs a pool table and charges 150 Zimbabwean dollars (about 34 pence) per game.

“At least we can make up for the small amount we get when electricity is restored,” he says.

Tafadzwa Nyakurewa, 35, rents two ironing boards in a warehouse in her township, but due to a lack of power she spends most of her day rather than ironing a large number of clothes or ironing for merchants. spend on carrying goods.

“The blackout left us redundant. Business was doing well before this disruption,” says Nyakurewa.

“This is where we survive, and every day the power is turned off we get stuck. I have three kids to feed.”

Tafazwa Nyakulewa Iron
Tafadzwa Nyakurewa rents two ironing boards, but due to lack of electricity, she makes a living by carrying luggage and mending shoes. Photo: Nyasha Chingono

Japhet Moyo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), urged the government to take action.

“People in the informal sector have been hit hard. Their business is so dependent on electricity that they can’t earn anything.

Energy Minister Soda Zem did not know when the crisis would end. “We don’t know…because we are currently working on aging equipment. We can gain self-sufficiency from internal power generation. recently told CongressA major supplier, the Hwange coal-fired power plant, has been under repair for over a year. Two new units are being built to increase production, but are unlikely to be operational by the end of the year at the earliest.

Zimbabwe recently signed a contract with Zambia’s state-owned energy company Zesco to supply 100 megawatts of electricity per month for $6.3 million per month over the next three to five years.

Rubimbo Makombe reads by candlelight during a power outage in Harare on July 28, 2022.
Student Rubimbo Macombe reads by candlelight during a power outage in Harare on July 28, 2022. Photo: Aaron Uchmeri/EPA

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (Zimstat): 2.8 million people work in the informal sector in Zimbabwecompared to 495,000 in regular employment.

Nyakurewa was earning about $25 a day. Now, “If you gave me $6, I would have worked hard,” he says.

“There is no power during the day, so I am spending my time fixing shoes right now.

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‘Electricity is always available here’: How Zimbabwe’s Iron Men ran out of power | Global expansion

Source link ‘Electricity is always available here’: How Zimbabwe’s Iron Men ran out of power | Global expansion

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