Energy-starved Zimbabwe has cut its debt to power providers to under US$20-million from around $100-million in a bid to resume imports after major regional suppliers cut it off, the energy minister said Thursday.
"We have currently made strides to pay the debt we owed and our total debt has now been reduced to below $20-million from nearly a $100-million," Energy Minister Elton Mangoma told parliament.
He said talks have begun with neighbours Mozambique and Zambia to get "a little bit more" electricity after reducing the debt.
In recent months, Zimbabwe could only afford to import 25 megawatts from neighbouring countries after major electricity suppliers in the region cut off supplies for non-payment.
Zimbabwe needs about 2200 MW of electricity at peak consumption but generates just below 1,300 MW.
"Zimbabwe used to import as much as 500 MW from SNEL in DR Congo, EDM and HCB in Mozambique and ZESCO in Zambia," he said adding the average quantity had came down to 100 MW.
"Because we were not paying, even that 100MW has been reduced to 25MW."
Mangoma said the country is working on refurbishing its northern Kariba hydro-power station and the Hwange thermal power station in the west of the country to boost generation capacity.
The minister said earlier this year that the power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is owed $400-million in unpaid electricity bills by consumers.
Authorities also increased energy charges last year by 31 percent to 9.83 cents per kilowatt hour.