Editor's Comment

Zambia can overcome power deficit

THE year 2019 can be described as one of the most challenging for the country because of the power deficit that affected various aspects of life.
From June, when load-shedding was effected due to dwindling water levels in the Kariba Dam, the situation has only worsened with time.
For instance, hours of load-shedding increased from four hours to over 12 hours in some places.
This has left many businesses struggling while others have had to close shop due to lack of productivity.
Big industries and companies across all sectors have not been spared.
Many have been compelled to restrategise to remain afloat.
For instance, some companies have had to downsize their workforce to sustain operations.
Family life has been adversely affected, too. Families can no longer sit together to watch television which is one of the most common forms of entertainment.
School children can no longer enjoy studying at night due to lack of power. They have to strain their eyes under candlelight.
Hospitals, schools and markets have had their operations crippled due to power deficit.
Small businesses that depend on power such as salons, welding workshops, barber shops, butcheries can attest to the effects of power deficit.
Unfortunately, the dwindling of water levels in the Kariba Dam are likely to continue for many years to come because climate change is only worsening.
For instance, this is midway into the rainy season but the rains are still erratic.
While we cannot do anything to change the climate situation or to bring the rains, perhaps the only solution is to look to alternative sources of energy as opposed to depending wholly on hydropower, which has proved unreliable.
Yes, the power deficit experienced this year has been a learning curve for the country to invest in other sources of energy.
And it is encouraging that the country is moving in that direction.
It is inspiring to learn that the Copperbelt Province is earmarked for a US$450 million investment in solar energy generation. This is according to provincial permanent secretary Bright Nundwe
This is a huge investment capable of making a significant contribution to the energy sector.
This is the way to go if the country is to avert its power challenges.
There are many countries across the globe, including China and India, that have demonstrated that solar plants can be a solution to power deficit.
Given the power challenges the country has gone through this year, the need for investment in alternative sources of energy cannot be overemphasised.
While the country may not have sufficient resources to meet the required investment in the energy sector, the alternative is to invite foreign investors while Zambians build capacity.
It is, therefore, hoped that the earmarked US$450 million investment in solar energy will be materialised for the benefit of the country.
There is need to guard against such good initiatives gathering dust on shelves in some offices.
Those directly involved in ensuring that such initiatives reach fruition should fulfil their obligation.
Needless to say, Zambia’s electricity challenges are not insurmountable if only all concerned stakeholders could unite in seeking solutions.
Instead of other stakeholders standing by the fence to point fingers, all must be involved to find lasting solutions. Moreover, everyone in the country is affected by the power deficit in one way or the other. For instance, when the economy slackens due to low productivity, everyone bears the brunt.
The year 2020 should, therefore, open a new chapter where all stakeholders regardless of race, religion, status and political affiliation work together to achieve one goal.
The power challenges in this country are not insurmountable, they can be overcome with the right mindset and unity.
For instance, Zambian businesses should see the power challenge as an opportunity to invest in the sector.
Out of these challenges, business giants in the energy sector can be birthed.
Let Zambians arise and seize the opportunity to invest in solar energy and contribute towards meeting the country’s power needs.
It is hoped that like the Copperbelt, other provinces will also rise to the challenge to find solutions to the power deficit.
It is such collective and corrective effort that will make the whole difference.

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