NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
ZESCO acting managing director Victor Mundende has urged Government to expedite formulation of the renewable energy policy to attract more investment in the sector to fast-track increased electricity generation and supply.
Mr Mundende is concerned that Zambia has one of the lowest tariffs in the region and this situation is not attractive to investors because they prefer to invest in countries with higher tariffs to sustain their business.
He said this in Lusaka yesterday when Zesco made a presentation to members of Parliament (MP) on the power deficit.
â€œThere is need to attract private sector participation through cost-effective tariffs, we have one of the lowest tariffs in the region and this does not attract investment,â€ Mr Mundende said.
He said the power utility has reduced power exports to Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 50 megawatts (MW) to 36MW.
â€œIt is also difficult for us to import power because the only country with surplus power is Mozambique from where we started importing power last week,â€ he said.
Mr Mundende also said the power utility is not load shedding the mines but only does so for domestic and commercial customers.
â€œWe are, however, discussing with them on the levels we expect them to use power,â€ he said.
And Zesco director of finance Rodgers Chisambi said the mines have not been paying their bills after they disputed the 6.4 cents tariff increment last year and the power utility is expected to lose up to US$300 million by the end of the year.
Mr Chisambi said the total potential cash haemorrhage (loss) is expected to be US$600 million by the end of the year.
â€œItâ€™s not just hydrology where our loss will come from but other factors as well,â€ he said
Mr Mundende also appealed to Government to assist the power utility to raise US$60 million needed to import power to cushion the power deficit.
Earlier, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini urged the MPs to visit their constituencies and encourage people to invest in alternative sources of energy to mitigate the impact of load shedding.
Dr Matibini said the power deficit the country is experiencing has been compounded by increased economic activity, inadequate maintenance or lack of it and system faults.
â€œOn our part as Parliament, we have invested in alternative sources of energy to mitigate power interruptions,â€ he said.
Dr Matibini said it is an established fact that access to modern energy is a key driver to creating a dynamic economic environment as it fosters economic growth and social progress to reduce poverty.
â€œAccess to modern energy would foster regional integration and allow African countries to attract foreign investment,â€ he said.
Lusaka Central MP Guy Scott (PF) said there is need to reduce the high consumption of power by domestic users.
Mazabuka Central MP Gary Nkombo (UPND) said there is need to find a lasting solution to the issues surrounding the mines because the money they owe Zesco is colossal.
NANCY SIAME, Lusaka