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Dismantle 66,000 people backlog

ZAMBIA is said to have installed electricity generation capacity of about 2,000 megawatts (MW), of which about 1,900MW is hydro power.
Holding about 40 percent of water resources in southern Africa, Zambia has a potential capacity to generate 6,000MW of hydro power.
If the country could actualise the generation of 6,000MW of hydro power from its various water bodies, and generate more power from solar and geo-thermal sources, we were going to have enough to meet domestic demand and export the surplus to the region. However, it is the failure to actualise potential into reality which has seen the country failing to meet both domestic and regional demand. Deficit in power generation, coupled with other logistical encumbrances, has seen the power utility, Zesco, accumulating a backlog of 66,000 people waiting to be connected to the national grid.
Zesco says despite people paying connection fees, what they pay for is not a true reflection of the cost of the service. Most connections are subsidised either by Zesco itself or cooperating partners such as the World Bank. As a result, Zesco is compelled to borrow to meet the demand. In 2008, the World Bank launched the Increased Access to Electricity Services (IAES) project, which it co-financed with its partners, International Development Association (IDA) and the European Commission. The IAES project connected about 80,000 low-income households to the national grid at a subsidised rate. The project successfully mobilised consumer contributions of 18 percent of the total project cost (about US$900,000). In addition to increasing electricity access throughout the country by approximately 1.3 percent, nearly one in every six newly-electrified households started a business. As a result, the World Bank-inspired IAES project has been a success as it has contributed to poverty alleviation by providing electricity to low-income households. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the European Union came on board to escalate the scaling up of the connection fee subsidy programme through the last-mile connectivity in Lusaka region. So, the 66,000 households waiting for their turn to be connected should be wondering what has become of their applications. Zesco should speed up the process of connecting all those who have been on the waiting list for a long time. By accepting the connection fees, Zesco committed itself to connect the residents. It is therefore unacceptable that the power utility can use the excuse that what citizens pay is not a true reflection of the cost of the service. Instead, Zesco should continue lobbying cooperating partners to extend the subsidies to other parts of the country. Demand for power will continue increasing because the population is still increasing, so are the construction activities, especially in the real estate sector. Power is the lifeblood of economic development, and denying certain sections of society is tantamount to discriminating them. Zesco should urgently connect those on the backlog while it is working on a system that will enable people to pay a true connection cost. The true cost should also be communicated to all potential customers in good time to avoid inconveniencing people. Zesco should also continue pursuing alternative investment opportunities for hydro-electricity generation to meet both the domestic and regional demand.