28th April 2015
POWER BLACK OUT
The events of yesterday evening cannot go without comment, because exactly three weeks ago, our President Hakainde Hichilema told the nation of the national power crisis. In response, the PF through Sunday Chanda came back and gave a homologation of issues which included calling HH a rainmaker. Yesterday evening the country collapsed into total darkness, due to the same reasons HH stated in that policy paper.
This blackout comes barely a few weeks since President Edgar Lungu was bragging about the commissioning of Lunzua Power Station. Lunzua is a drop in the ocean, the system is under stress due to many factors. Zambia is not generating enough power; and the little power we are generating is shared between domestic and commercial users. As if that is not enough we have export agreements that need to be fulfilled. So while the residents of Livingstone had no power, their neighbours across in Victoria Falls town were fully lit; and while the people of Siavonga were in darkness, the people of Kariba had electricity generated in the North Bank.
Sunday Chanda and his PF must rise to the occasion and explain to Zambians what they are going to do about this power situation to avert similar occurrences in future. Under PF we have had these nationwide power outages more than 3 times in as many years, whereas under MMD they occurred once in 2002 and a minor one in 2006. What does it says about PF? What is even worse is that the same Kafue Gorge that PF were bragging to have invested the Eurobond is the same power station that brought the entire system to its knees.
For purposes of those that missed it, we have reproduced the entire weekly policy statement that HH issued three weeks ago about ZESCO.
Chairman for Information and Publicity and Party Spokesperson,
UNITED PARTY FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (UPND)
WEEKLY POLICY ISSUE – HAKAINDE HICHILEMA
ZESCO CONTINUES TO DOOM ZAMBIA’S ECONOMY – MORE DARK DAYS!
Zambia is headed for darker days due an electricity deficit that is as a result of low water levels at the Itezhi-Tezhi reservoir and Kariba Dam. However, this deficit in electricity is further evidence of the lack of planning that has characterised the PF Government since 2011. The PF Government from inception has been running on excuses for things of their own making due to their inability to prioritise and plan well. And now, Zambia will continue to be in the dark.
The electricity generation system has come under severe strain due to maintenance backlogs and a failure to bring new generating capacity on-time to match economic and social development demand. This is against the background that only 22% of Zambians have access to electricity. ZESCO received US$186 Million for Kafue Gorge Lower Power Project and another US$69 million for the Power Distribution Project from the $750 million Eurobond. However, to date we are yet to see the benefits of that investment. Strangely, instead we have seen increased tariffs on consumers who are already burdened with higher costs of living. ZESCO has failed to attract any real commercial investment because of political patronage. The recent removal of the Board and CEO, clearly flouting corporate Governance standards, illustrate the depth of the political rot and interference in ZESCO in the PF government.
ZESCO is able to produce about 2,336.8 megawatts of electricity but almost a third of its capacity (producing an average of 1,300 MW) is offline due to unplanned maintenance and poor distribution networks. This continued power shortage is a huge hindrance to economic growth and international competitiveness of the country as access to electricity is one of the key drivers of economic activity. For example, Zambia loses over US$9,000 revenue per minute of a Mine not having power. The entire economy loses US$36,000 for every minute that we have a power outage. This is what ZESCO and the major shareholder, Government, do not realize.
Policy options – The UPND Approach
- As UPND, we will ensure that more money is raised for continued energy sector investments through Public Private Partnerships and by providing incentives to private sector to invest in the energy sector. The aim is to create modern power generating infrastructure to meet Zambia’s growing demand
- We will revitalise the role of the ERB to ensure that it creates a conducive regulatory environment that will create a level playing field for other independent power producers so that we enhance private sector’s active participation.
- UPND’s aim will be to cut the waste created by bloating ZESCO with PF party cadres. ZESCO will be turned into a professional institution and not a job reserve place for cadres and source of employment on patronage lines which have contributed to higher staff costs.
We will promote and ensure accountability in ZESCO’s investment infrastructure to ensure value for every kwacha invested and not repeat the failures to account for millions of dollars by the PF from the euro bond whose value has not been seen.”