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Investment in power supply welcome

THE release of K124 million by government to improve the supply of electricity through rehabilitation and upgrading of the network is welcome.
Welcome in the sense that increased capacity will ease the difficulties the nation has been grappling with in accessing reliable and affordable electricity.
Minister of Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma said in Parliament on Thursday the Ministry of Finance has released K124 million to pay contractors.
Mr Yaluma said 70 percent of works on the network rehabilitation and upgrade project Zesco Limited has been implementing have been done.
We are sure this is the kind of news electricity consumers want to hear.
The demand for electricity in Zambia has continued to outstrip supply, and this has put Zesco Limited under increased pressure to address the situation.
In the last six years Zambia has been recording steady economic growth, at an average of six percent annually.
The growth has been attributed to a number of factors, among them increased copper production and non-traditional exports and healthy foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow.
These factors have triggered unprecedented growth in various sectors of the national economy, the leading one being the construction sector.
As expected, the growth has caused a sharp rise in the demand for electricity, both for domestic and commercial uses.
This upward spiral in the demand for the commodity has not been matched with investment in generation and distribution infrastructure.
And the imbalance in the two variables has spawned widespread rationing of power, which is now commonly known as load shedding.
The country’s major power supplier, Zesco Limited, has come under increasing pressure to come up with effective ways of reducing the load shedding.
To help Zesco Limited meet this challenge, the government has been releasing significant amounts of money in the last three years so that the utility can scale up generation and improve distribution.
Both government and Zesco Limited have been promising the nation that load shedding will end, and we are happy that there are serious efforts to fulfil that promise.
Early last year, Mr Yaluma announced that Government had set December 2014, which is this month, as the target to end constant power cuts that have rocked the country in the last six years.
He was speaking during a media briefing after touring the ongoing construction of Phase One of the 300 Mega Watt of a thermal power plant at Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) in Sinazongwe district, on Wednesday.
“By December next year, load shedding will be a thing of the past. This is because of the future planning the Government and Zesco have committed themselves to and as government we appreciate the work that has been done by MCL,” Mr Yaluma said.
The minister was inspired by the Zambia Power Rehabilitation Project (PRP), whose overall objective is to support government’s objective of enhancing the ability of Zambia’s power supply industry to provide electricity at the least cost and in an efficient manner to stimulate more and inclusive growth in the economy.
The project involves the rehabilitation and upgrading of the three major hydro power stations namely Kafue Gorge, Kariba North Bank and Victoria Falls.
We are happy to learn from Mr Yaluma that 70 percent of works have already been done.
With the release of the K124 million by the Ministry of Finance, we are confident that the goal of ending load shedding will be attained.
The nation is eager for that relief.
We are also happy that the private sector is playing a more active role in efforts aimed at meeting the nation’s demand for electricity.
For example, Standard Chartered Bank has pumped substantial resources in the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) to help finance its power generation projects.
There are hydro power generation projects either under-way or at drawing stage in Maamba, Kabompo, Itezhi-tezhi and Luapula Province all being implemented by private players.
It is our hope that in the next two years Zambia will be self-sufficient in electricity supply.