Zimbabwe continues to experience sharp increase in fuel demand with petrol imports surging by 46 percent during the first five months of the year owing to increased economic activities amid calls for the country to invest in local production of fuels from the vast coal-bed methane resources.

A total of 242.5 million litres of the commodity were imported between January and May compared to 166.6 million litres imported during the same period in 2017 according to statistics from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).

On the other hand, diesel imports surged by 13 percent during the first five months of the year.

ZERA Chief Executive Officer Dr Gloria Magombo, who attributed the sharp increase in liquid fuels demand to more economic activities, said the country stands to benefit more from exploiting the coal-bed methane resources in fuel production.

“What is evident is that there is sharp increase in the demand of energy in the country and it is energy which drives the economy. It is important to look at our own resource like coal-bed methane for production of our own fuels,” said Dr Magombo.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) demand has also surged during the period under review with 15 million kilogrammes of the commodity having been imported which is a 17 percent increase compared to 13 million kilogrammes imported during the same period in 2017.

The increased demand for fuel has seen the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe doubling the weekly foreign currency allocation from US$10 million to US$20 million in order to ensure constant supply of fuel.