The perennial power cuts the island of Zanzibar has suffered from since December of last year, came to an end last week when services were restored following the repairs on the underwater cable from the mainland, which is used to supply 40 MW to the island. It was also reported from Dar es Salaam that a new, larger capacity cable was to be installed, able to carry up to 100 MW, which would be sufficient to cater for growth of electricity consumption on the island.
Hotel and resort owners are now counting their financial losses, having had to use their own generators for the last couple of months, which increased their operating cost very substantially.
Meanwhile though, the joy of getting power back was short lived for some when it became apparent that some parts of the island had their cables stolen during the past months, a situation apparently wider spread than officially admitted.
In the absence of regular power supply, water delivery also had to be done mostly by trucks and trailers, again at added cost to the Zanzibari hotel and resort industry, which forms the backbone of the island’s economy, next to agriculture.
One source in regular contact with this correspondent from Zanzibar also mentioned that the sector would make strong representation to the island’s government to install large back-up generators to cater to a regular supply of electricity and also boost the capacity of the waterworks to provide enough fresh water to the hotels, beach resorts, and restaurants in the future.
“We are the biggest economic force for the island, but government pays too little attention to our woes. No main electricity, no water from the pipes means very high added cost for us. Tourism is only beginning to recover. We lost market share last year, so we could not raise rates to cover our higher cost for diesel generators or buying fresh water. Government must wake up now and listen to the private sector if tourism is to recover fully in 2010.”