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Zambia needs more investment in energy

EVIDENCE that Zambia needs a lot of investments in the energy sector is provided by the fact that Zesco is struggling to meet both commercial and domestic demand for power.
Zesco has informed its customers that the current extended load shedding being experienced in some parts of the country has been necessitated by the works involving the upgrade of the 220kV line to 330kV between Muzuma and Kafue in readiness for the total evacuation of power from Maamba Collieries power station.
It also includes the loss of 48MW generation from Ndola Energy Company Limited and the reduction of generation at Kafue Gorge Power Station from an average of 700MW to 600MW to manage the water levels.
We are aware that Zesco is committed to providing reliable electricity and is doing everything possible to ensure all transmission and generation constraints are mitigated in the shortest possible time.
Although Zesco expects to complete the line upgrade works by November 11, which will strengthen the capacity to evacuate power from Maamba and thus end the extended load-shedding, it is clear that the power utility is overwhelmed.
It is, therefore, clear that electricity consumers have to choose between economic tariffs to guarantee full availability of electricity or the current status continues with Government subsidising electricity and load-shedding persisting.
The country needs to make bold decisions which may be painful to citizens in the interim but very beneficial in the near future.
Only a pragmatic government can make such decisions meant to make Zambia a preferred investment destination which will ultimately spur economic development.
We are, therefore, pleased that several investors have expressed willingness to invest in alternative sources of energy to help Zambia overcome the power deficit if the country adopts cost-reflective electricity tariffs.
President Lungu said yesterday that low electricity tariffs are discouraging investors from investing in the energy sector.
Speaking during a Bemba programme called “Kabusha Takolwele Bowa” on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC)’s Radio One, President Lungu said there are a lot of investors willing to come and invest in the energy sector.
Since there are a lot of people willing to come, it is an opportunity for the country to overcome its power deficit.
So, electricity consumers should be ready to bite the bullet if we want a steady supply of power in our homes and industries because the low price of electricity cannot attract investors.
Low electricity tariffs simply imply that investors cannot recoup their investments and would rather look elsewhere to make profit.
That is why President Lungu said if the nation agrees to remove the subsidy on energy then investors will come and invest in the energy sector.
The head of State said once the subsidy on energy is removed and people start paying cost-reflective tariffs, more companies will come and invest in alternative sources of energy such as solar, coal-generated power and others.
That is what the country needs if industry is to continue operating at optimal capacity to generate more forex and keep workers in employment.