ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Energy and Water Development Dora Siliya says Zambia will save up to 200 megawatts (MW) of power, which is energy consumption equivalent to US$400 million after completely switching from the current incandescent to energy-saving bulbs.
Ms Siliya has told the Africa Energy Conference in Johannesburg that African countries have also resolved to go into partnerships whenever undertaking power projects.
This is according to a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday by press secretary at the Zambian High Commission to South Africa, Nicky Shabolyo.
Ms Siliya said Government has acted swiftly by introducing legislation that will progressively bar the use of incandescent bulbs in Zambia and in their place bring in the use of energy-saving bulbs.
â€œZambia will reduce energy consumption equivalent to US$400 million, which is the cost of putting up a 200 megawatt power plant, when the country completely switches from the current incandescent to energy-saving bulbs,â€ she said.
And the conference has resolved that African countries should go into partnerships whenever undertaking power projects in order to adopt sustainable solutions and speed up implementation processes.
Ms Siliya pointed out that Zambia is already on the right path as the country has embraced the concept of integration as evidenced through the US$5 billion Batoka hydro-power project, which was being undertaken with Zimbabwe, while other projects in the north of the country are being considered in partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The minister said Zambia has realised the importance of integration following the challenges it is facing in the importation of power from South Africa through Zimbabwe where transmission lines had been collapsing due to increased demand over the years.
â€œFrom this, we see that we cannot do things in isolation. It tells us that we need to collaborate with Zimbabwe so that we improve on the infrastructure if our needs are to be met,â€ Ms Siliya said.
Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has pledged to help Zambia and Zimbabwe mobilise resources to finance the joint power projects that the two countries are planning.
AU Commissioner Elham Ibrahim said that the AU is willing to approach its financiers on behalf of the two countries over projects such as the proposed Batoka hydro-power plant, being pursued by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ms Siliya and Zimbabweâ€™s Minister of Energy and Power Development, Samuel Undenge, welcomed Dr Ibrahimâ€™s offer and committed to submitting a formal request on the matter to the AU.
Mr Undenge said Zimbabwe has always been a believer in integration as seen from the Kariba Dam project and the establishment of the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which is run by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He said the power deficit that his country is facing has brought to the fore the need for cooperation among countries.
Ms Siliya said the Zambian government will take advantage of the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings scheduled for May this year in Lusaka to engage the AU on the offer.
And on the resolution to embrace integration, Dr Ibrahim said projections indicate that Africa will need over 700 gigawatts of energy by 2040.
She wondered how this would be achieved if countries continue to implement power projects individually.
South Africaâ€™s deputy director general for Energy Dr Wolsey Barnard, standing in for Minister of Energy Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said that US$225 billion investment is required to make energy accessible to over 620 million people who had no access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa.
On the need for cost-reflective energy tariffs, Reuel Khoza from Globeleq, an independent power producer, said Africa would continue suffering the challenges of inadequate power for as long as there is no political will to introduce policies that would attract private sector investment.
Dr Khoza said the continent has lagged in terms of having cost- reflective tariffs in place to an extent that authorities had over-burdened the consumer through implementation of huge increments when they finally realised that there was need for an upward adjustment in the tariffs.
ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka