HARARE - Zimbabwe has banned the manufacture and importation of incandescent light bulbs in an effort to save electricity and reduce power outages.
The country needs about 2 200MW of power, but is only able to generate about half of its power requirements from domestic sources.
According Statutory Instrument 21 of 2017 published last week, any person found with the bulbs after April 28 this year shall be found guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or face a six month jail term.
“No person shall import, manufacture, distribute or sell lighting products which do not meet the minimum energy performance standards (MEPs) as defined in the regulations,” the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) said.
“Lighting products which do not meet the MEPs will be seized pending an investigation and may be disposed of,” the energy regulator added.
MEPs is a specification of performance requirements for electrical devices such stoves, geysers, dishwashers, washing machines and pool pumps
The banned products are incandescent light bulbs with the exception of special incandescent lighting products such as medical and laboratory equipment, T10 AND T12 halo phosphate florescent lamps and magnet ballasts as well as florescent lamps with a colour rendering index less than 80.
While many people preferred the warmer glow given by the incandescent bulbs, 95 percent of the energy that goes into them gets turned into heat rather than light.
As a result, the lights which have been the standard lighting method in the world for more than a century after taking over from tallow candles are now branded environmentally-unfriendly.
But their replacements — LED and fluorescent bulbs — while far more energy-efficient have proved unpopular because they give off a cold, unnatural light compared to their predecessors.
Zera said replacing five million incandescent light bulbs with modern lighting alternatives will save the country, at any given time, over 300MW of electricity.
Energy savers are 80 percent efficient and last 10 times longer than ordinary filament bulbs as they have 10 000 burning hours.
They also provide the same brightness with six times less wattage and last five more years when being used by consumers
In 2011, the country’s power utility, Zesa, secured $12 million and rolled out a free bulb exchange programme that saw thousands of households receiving CFL bulbs in exchange for the filament bulbs.
However, after the exercise Zimbabweans continued using the conventional bulbs as they are cheaper than the Zera recommended varieties.
Many developed nations have banned the use of energy inefficient filament bulbs and Zimbabwe embarked on the programme in order to reduce power consumption as the country relies on power imports because it cannot produce adequate supplies of its own.