By TRYNESS MBALE
ZAMBIA and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed – in principle – to jointly own two hydro-electricity power projects in Luapula Province.
The hydro-electricity power schemes, which will have a combined generation capacity of over 1,000 megawatts, will be sited at Mambilima and Mumbotuta falls on the Luapula River.
The two countries, which will jointly own a national asset for the first time since independence in the 1960s, identified the potential of the two projects after several feasibility studies which started in the 1970s.
Zambian government officials and representatives from national power company Zesco and their counterparts from the DRC held closed-door discussions at Lusakaâ€™s Government Complex yesterday in readiness for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today.
The projects, when completed, will tremendously increase the two countriesâ€™ power output and reduce energy shortages.
Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development permanent secretary Charity Mwansa, who was in attendance, said the development of the project would stimulate economic growth of not only Zambia and the DRC but the southern African region as a whole.
â€œZambia and DRC plan to develop the hydro-power sites on Luapula River at Mambilima and Mumbotuta falls. The development will secure power and promote electricity trade,â€ she siad.
Mrs Mwansa said this in Lusaka at a two-day meeting on the inter-governmental MoU between Zambia and DRC for the development of the hydro-electricity power stations.
The Luapula River, shared by Zambia and the DRC, is a section of Africaâ€™s second-longest river, the Congo.
Mrs Mwansa urged participants at the meeting to discuss all the available options at the sites including a possibility of a special vehicle to tackle issues relating to the development of the projects.
At the same occasion, DRC ministry of energy and hydraulic resources chief of staff Thaddee Nkumbi Nkieti said the projects would address the energy deficit and support the mining activities of Katanga and Copperbelt provinces.
â€œWe have been discussing the hydro-power sites for decades, but now the two governments intend to look for ways to develop the sites to cover their critical power deficits,â€ he said.
Mr Nkieti also called on Zambians to exploit the DRCâ€™s electricity potential following the liberalisation of that countryâ€™s energy sector.
By TRYNESS MBALE