ZESA Holdings has received a consignment of 166 vehicles and electricity distribution equipment worth US$11.6 million from China, according to the company's executive chairman Sydney Gata on Friday.
Sydney Gata said the consignment came following a strategic swap deal ZESA entered into with China which would see the power utility funding and supporting the production of tobacco and cotton for export in exchange for equipment that would need foreign currency to import.
Zimbabwe is facing acute foreign currency shortages compounded by sanctions imposed on the country by Britain, the US and other Western countries.
This has negatively affected the operations of several companies and essential service providers such as hospitals who are finding it difficult to import drugs.
Part of the consignment including transformers and cables among other things, is already in Zimbabwe while the rest awaits clearance.
Gata said the equipment and vehicles would be used in the rehabilitation and expansion of the urban electricity distribution infrastructure.
"We received a consignment from China during the Christmas holiday and some of the equipment is ready for installation in our major urban areas, particularly Harare and Bulawayo," he said.
Electricity infrastructure in Harare and Bulawayo, which was installed about 60 years ago, has become too old resulting in power cuts whenever it rains.
Under the arrangement, non-regulated ZESA enterprises subsidiaries contract farmers to produce cotton and tobacco for export to countries in the Far East such as China, Pakistan and India.
In the last season, 200 tons of tobacco were exported at a cost of US$8.5 million and US$1.5 million was realized from cotton exports.
A consignment of 192 vehicles worth US$22 million for the rural electrification program, which has seen previously remote and underdeveloped areas getting electricity, was received in March.
(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2005)