Editor's Comment

Promise fulfilled

Government has undeniably continued to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to permanently end load-shedding and position Zambia as a net exporter of electricity in the region. Adding to the list of many projects the Patriotic Front (PF) government has undertaken to boost power generation, President Edgar Lungu yesterday commissioned the first of the five 150 megawatt electricity generation turbines at Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro-Power Plant (KGLHPP) in Chikankata. This is the first phase of the ambitious 750 megawatt project worth US$2.3 billion. The project, which started in 2016, is a government initiative aimed at increasing power supply and providing a solution to the current and future energy needs.
During the construction stage, over 4,000 jobs were created at the project. When fully implemented, the project will significantly reduce the power deficit, which stands at about 810 MW. As rightly noted by the head of State, this is one of Zambia’s greatest milestones in the energy sector in the last five years. What more evidence is required for one to know that Government is truly committed to ensuring that there is a stable supply of power, which is a key economic driver?
Over the years, population growth and technological developments have naturally escalated the demand for power.
The high demand coupled with erratic rainfall patterns in the recent years led to the country experiencing a serious power deficit. It is, therefore, commendable that Government has continued to work to meet the country’s growing energy needs in the country. Besides power being essential at household level, businesses both small and large depend on sufficient and consistent supply of power for productivity and sustainability. We saw how some businesses struggled to survive while others closed shop to survive at a time when the country suffered an acute shortage of power. It is also a well-known fact that as a key driver of the economy, energy is key to accelerating the much desired industralisation process. And for a developing country like Zambia, industralisation is critical to accelerating the development process. Needless to say, failure to address power deficit would adversely affect the national aspirations as espoused in the 7th National Development Plan. Without adequate energy to power productivity, the country’s agenda to transition to a middle-income country by 2030 will be inhibited.
Government, under the leadership of President Lungu, should therefore be commended for its continued efforts to not only relegate load-shedding to the past but for also working towards making Zambia an exporter of energy. Progress in this sector is for all to see. In 2015, government upgraded power generation capacity at Lunzua hydropower station from 0.7mW to 14.8mw. The following year, the 120mw Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower station was commissioned. Government also upgraded the Musonda Falls hydropower station from 5mW to 10mW while the Kariba North Bank extension was commissioned in 2014 with 360mW.
In its quest to increase access to power supply, in 2017 Government also connected selected districts in North Western and Western Provinces to the national grid and boosted voltage for households in Northern, Eastern and Muchinga provinces.
While investing in hydropower projects, Government has been conscious of the challenges of hydropower generation because of its dependency on rain. We all know that the acute power deficit the country experienced was as a result of drought, which led to low water levels being insufficient for power generation. Government, in partnership with stakeholders, is investing in alternative sources of energy such as solar. Cumulatively, in the last seven years, Government has introduced an additional 1,350 mW to the national grid with the installed power generation capacity of 3,250. This translates to over 70 percent increase from the previous 1,900mW. Government’s achievements in the energy sector are undeniably good. Evidence is there for all to see and figures do not lie. With such investments continuing, Zambia is certainly poised to become a regional hub of energy.

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