THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has received close to 1 000 applications for petroleum products retail licences this year, which is almost equal the total number of fuel stations currently licensed by the energy sector regulator.
Zera says the huge appetite for fuel station licences was being driven by growing demand for petrol and diesel, as well as Government incentives that are promoting investment in the sector. Zimbabwe requires at least three million and four million litres of petrol and diesel per day, respectively.
Demand, however, continues to rise on account of an economy growing at an accelerated pace, driven by expansion of the mining, agriculture and infrastructure development sectors.
It is also believed development of new urban settlements and the opening up of new roads have also created more strategic locations for the establishment of service stations.
Zera chief executive officer Mr Edington Mazambani said: “The number of licensed fuel stations as at November 6, 2023 is 913.
“The number of retail licence applications (for this year) is 973.”
He said investment opportunities in the energy sector, especially for petroleum dealers, has led to the accelerated establishment of new fuel stations.
“The increase in the number of new fuel stations in Zimbabwe can be attributed to several factors,” he added.
“Firstly, there has been a growing demand for fuel due to the expansion of various industries and increased vehicle ownership.”
This, he said, has created a favourable market for new fuel stations to cater for the needs of consumers.
“Secondly, the Government’s efforts to promote investment in the energy sector has attracted entrepreneurs and investors to establish new fuel stations.
“The Government’s policies and incentives have encouraged individuals to venture into this business, leading to an increase in the number of fuel stations.
“Furthermore, the development of infrastructure, such as improved road networks and transportation systems, has facilitated the establishment of new fuel stations in strategic locations.”
This ensures better accessibility and convenience for customers, added Mr Mazambani.
“Overall, the combination of increased fuel demand, Government support for investment and improved infrastructure has contributed to the rise in the number of new fuel stations in Zimbabwe.”
Applicants for fuel retail licences, he said, are required to produce a permit from their local authority, a fire brigade certificate, a hazardous substances storage and sale certificate from the Environmental Management Agency and a certificate of incorporation.
Further, an applicant must produce tax clearance documents from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, a lease agreement or title deeds and their national identity document.
Added Mr Mazambani: “The authority has a compliance team that routinely does work to assess if licensees are operating within the set regulations and requirements of their licences.
“We also have fuel quality technicians who also do routine checks on the fuel quality to ensure blending levels are adhered to and that there is no contamination or adulteration of petroleum products being sold.
“If found wanting, the licensee will face possible sealing of sites, fines and prosecution based on the offence.”
Last week, President Mnangagwa commissioned a US$7,3 million National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) of Zimbabwe ethanol storage and handling facility in Harare.
The facility will increase NOIC’s ethanol handling capacity by over 100 percent from 5,2 million litres to 11,2 million litres.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, President Mnangagwa said growth of the economy has seen demand for fuel surge dramatically.
“Our national storage and handling capacity of ethanol is set to increase by over 100 percent from 5,2 million litres to about 11,2 million litres.
“These are spread across the country at Msasa, Feruka and Bulawayo depots.
“Over and above driving our import substitution policy, preserving foreign currency, creating employment, empowerment and wealth-generation opportunities across the biofuel value chain, such a facility consolidates the prevailing fuel availability and stability of the liquid fuel subsector.
“This is in keeping with the positive economic growth and fuel demand, which now stands at over three million and four million litres of petrol and diesel per day, respectively.”
Positive Eye News