Govt says energy is driver of economy

Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower station Zambia
Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower station Zambia

The government says energy is a critical ingredient of the production sector and plays an important role in the development of the country.

Chienge District Commissioner (DC), Joseph Chisakula, says energy and its availability or the lack of it has a major impact on the lives of the Zambian people.

Mr Chisakula says the current inadequate energy in the country has resulted in the infamous load shedding because of the ever-growing demand which has outstripped the country’s generation capacity.

Mr Chisakula was speaking at Nambele Lodge in Chienge today when he officially opened a stakeholders’ sensitization meeting organized by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB).

He noted that government departments, business houses and households in Chienge District have been adversely affected by the load shedding as a result of the power deficiency in the energy sector.

“The power deficiency has impacted negatively on people’s social and economic well being in the country especially in rural districts like Chienge,” he said.

The DC was, however, quick to say that the government and its cooperating partners are not just sitting idle in the face of the power deficit that has resulted into rampant load shedding.

He said the government has embarked on long term interventions and currently implementing a number of power generation projects.

He cited the expansion works at the Kariba North Bank and Itezh-Tezhi hydro power station that are expected to provide an extra 360 and 120 mega watts respectively once completed.

The DC said the government has also facilitated the construction of the Ndola Energy Company plant that has just been completed to supplement the national grid by 50 mega watts.

“Other projects include the planned construction of the two thermal power stations in Sinazongwe that will produce an additional 300 mega watts from coal in both Phases One and Two,” he added.

He noted that the construction of the Kabombo Gorge power station by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation to generate 40 mega watts is progressing very well.

Mr Chisakula further said more power generation projects among them the one at Kalungwishi River in Luapula Province and the Lusemfwa River in Central Province are on the government cards for implementation.

He observed that these projects going on including the planned 750 mega watts at Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station will eventually end load shedding and improve the quality of power supply.

He urged the residents of Chienge to contribute towards reducing the load shedding by switching of appliances that are not in use at a particular time and adopt the energy saving bulbs.

Meanwhile, Mr Chisakula said the government has introduced the uniform prices of the petroleum products throughout the country to encourage investment in rural areas as a way of reducing the cost of doing business.

However, he bemoaned the lack of filling station facilities in Chienge District and disclosed that this is forcing motorists in the area to buy fuel from Nchelenge District, about 150 km away, making the cost of doing business very high.

He also noted with sadness that in most cases this has left motorists with no option but to buy the commodity from the illegal fuel vendors whose quality cannot be guaranteed.

The DC expressed some worries that this exposes families to risks hazards associated with the storage of the fuel commodity in homes and other undesignated areas.

He also complained that the country is currently losing revenue through illegal fuel vendors because there are no systems in place to compel them to pay tax to the government.

He urged private investors from within and outside Chienge to seriously consider putting up a filling station to mitigate the rampant fuel shortage that has become synonymous with the area.

And Mr Chisakula has commended the government for promoting the use of alternative energy sources such as solar, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Bio fuels and Bio gas for domestic heating and cooking.

He said this is a highly commendable move and that it will go a long way in mitigating the power shortage the country is facing especially in rural districts like Chienge and improve the national energy mix.