It is unacceptable to refuse Zimbabwean dollars in exchange for fuel TechnoMag has learnt.Fuel companies importing fuel and cooking gas using foreign currency they bought on the auctions have been warned that they must accept local currency from customers and cannot demand foreign currency.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has now been directed to increase monitoring to ensure fuel companies and service stations obey the rules and those who continually breach the regulations risk losing their licences.
There has been a significant amount of fuel sold in Zimbabwe that was quite legally imported using free funds, and in these cases the importer can insist on foreign currency so long as everyone in the supply chain charges no more than the maximum prices laid down by ZERA. But those successfully bidding at the auctions for foreign currency to import fuel or gas cannot refuse to accept local currency although it is suspected that some fuel is mislabelled as free-funds import when auction money was used instead.
Energy and Power Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Gloria Magombo told a ZERA stakeholders’ engagement feedback workshop in Harare yesterday that ZERA needed to work with other regulators to ensure people access fuel in the currencies acceptable in Zimbabwe.
“We are also concerned by the behaviour by some suppliers who have access to the foreign currency auction but are not able to supply the petroleum products (liquid fuels and gas) in local currency,” she said.
“We are in a multi-currency environment which should be reflected also in the energy sector. Any deviation from the licensing terms, conditions or standards of importers, wholesalers or retailers of fuel operators will result in the termination of such licenses.”
Government wishes to see fairness where those accessing forex from the auction system then sell the resulting products in local currency to consumers.
Dr Magombo said the fuel sector requires operators of high integrity, who are transparent and committed to national development. The Energy Ministry plans to ensure the energy sector’s operating environment remains fair, stable and open to innovative ideas while keeping supplies stable so that the economy grows.
The quality of infrastructure in the petroleum sector has improved even though there are some communities that do not have service stations.
“We would like to see building of such and also the uptake of electric vehicles which use solar. I have seen some communities adopting these three wheelers.
“The Government is developing an electric mobility framework and policy which will come up with targets and standards for this area. ZERA and other stakeholders have procured the electric vehicles and we hope this serves as a learning curve on how we can leapfrog to this space,” said Dr Magombo.
Zimbabwe’s vision for the energy sector is to ensure access to modern energy by 2030.
“The vision should serve as a radar and challenge to ZERA, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Independent Power Producers (IPP)s and other key players in the energy sector to focus on the 55 percent population which is yet to have access to electricity, clean cooking and other modern sources of lighting be it solar, home cooking systems and off grid systems etcetera. There is a huge opportunity for private and public sector to develop programs and projects to serve our people.
“An upper middle-income state requires every citizen to have access to modern energy services which should be used efficiently and productively.”