STEVEN MVULA, Parliament
VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina has revealed that Government is spending US$25 million monthly to import power from neighbouring Mozambique to keep production in Zambia going.
Mrs Wina said the El Nino weather phenomenon has had a devastating effect on Zambiaâ€™s economy and this has resulted in the nation importing power at a huge cost.
â€œMr Speaker, the El Nino has had devastating impact on our nation. The energy sector has been affected; the agriculture sector has not been spared. Literally, all sectors of our economy have been hit forcing Government to import emergency power to keep the nation going,â€ Mrs Wina said.
She was responding to a question by Katuba member of Parliament Jonas Shakafuswa (UPND) during the Vice-Presidentâ€™s question time.
Mr Shakafuswa wanted to know why government has continued to subsidise electricity for those in town at the expense of those in rural areas where only five percent have access to power.
Mrs Wina said Government cares about the welfare of its people hence the decision to import power, albeit at great cost.
â€œWe want production in industries to continue and we want our small-scale businesses to stay afloat despite the negative impact of El Nino, which has resulted in adverse weather pattern, thereby affecting our production of electricity,â€ the Vice-President said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Wina says Government is ready for the forthcoming general elections, which will be the countryâ€™s test of its democratic credentials.
â€œHolding elections is a constitutional mandate and we knew that we [would] hold elections this year, so we budgeted for this election,â€ she said.
Mrs Wina said Government is also talking to co-operating partners for assistance towards the August polls.
She was responding to Ikelengâ€™e MP Elijah Muchima (MMD), who wanted to know how prepared Government is to hold the presidential, parliamentary, local government and mayoral polls.
Mrs Wina also told Parliament that Government would not take a bill to the House to amend the constitution to remove the Grade 12 clause requirement for parliamentarians and councillors.
â€œGovernment will not bring any motion here to amend the Grade 12 clause for those wishing to be elected. This is what Zambians wanted and the President assented to it,â€ Mrs Wina said.
She was responding to Sinda MP Levy Ngoma (MMD), who wanted Government to categorically state whether it would take to Parliament a motion to amend the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is seeking proposals for round one of scaling up the solar programme for 100 megawatts (mw).
This involves the competitive procurement of two grid-scale solar PV power plants of up to 50mw for each project, and the project will be located in the Lusaka-South Multi-Facility Economic Zone.
This is according to a statement released yesterday by the IDC.
The request for proposals has been issued to the 11 highly qualified and experienced bidders that successfully navigated an initial prequalification phase held in November, 2015.
The 11 prequalified bidders are EDF Energy Nouvelle, Scatec Solar, Access Eren Zambia 1, Mulilo Zambia PV1 Consortium, Enel Green Power and Globeleq.
Others are International Power SA with Engie, Neoen with First Solar, Shanghai Electric Power with Avic, Africa Infrastructure Fund2 with Old Mutual Life Insurance Company with Cobra and CDE and Grupo-T Solar.
The 11 prequalified bidders are required to submit their final proposals within eight weeks by the closing date of April 9, 2016.
The statement states that the bids will then be evaluated on the basis of their compliance with technical and commercial requirements as contained in the request for proposal.
â€œTwo winning bidders will then be selected, one for each project. The winning bidders will be selected on the basis of the lowest electricity price (tariff) offered for each of the two projects.
â€œThe winning bidders will be responsible for financing, constructing, operating and maintenaning their respective plants under 25-year power purchase agreements. Plant construction is expected to commence in 2016.Â The Zambian Government, through the IDC, will retain a minority shareholding in each project for later offering to the Zambian public,â€ the statement reads in part.
STEVEN MVULA, Parliament