HARARE (Reuters) – Around 9 p.m., a siren pierces the pitch-black night at the Willowvale industrial park in Zimbabwe, signaling that power has been restored after a day-long outage.
Moments later, eight men in blue overalls walk into a factory and begin shoveling a mound of gypsum into a drying machine to make wall plaster.
Zimbabwe - Power - Shortages - Day - Night
Zimbabwe’s worsening power shortages have effectively turned day into night for many businesses, with most work happening well after dark, when lights flicker on for a few hours.
For families, it is the same. Cynthia Chabwino, 32, is a mother of four young children. By the time the lights come on at her modest home in Hatcliffe township, on the outskirts of Harare, they are all fast asleep and she has a few hours to complete the household chores.
Chabwino - Routine - Water - Borehole - Use
Chabwino begins her nocturnal routine by fetching water from an electric-powered borehole for use the next day. By 10 p.m., the line of women and children stretches more than 50 meters (yards).
She then converts a small coffee table in the middle of her living room into an ironing board and starts pressing the children’s uniforms for school the next morning.
“Our lives have become unbearable,” she said. “We are always tired now, but what can we do?”
The southern African country is producing just half of its 1,700 MW peak demand, the result of a prolonged drought that has reduced output at its largest hydro plant and aging coal-fired generators that keep breaking down, according to state-owned power utility ZESA Holdings.
Company - Blackouts - Hours - Day - Factories
The company has imposed rolling blackouts that last up to 18 hours a day, crippling factories and mines and compounding the country’s worst economic crisis in a decade.
The International Monetary Fund expects Zimbabwe’s economy to contract by 2.1% this year. Annual inflation surged to 175.66% in June, eroding earnings and stirring memories...
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