Zambia makes strides in energy infrastructure drive
Lusaka – Zambia has raised half the capital needed to refurbish and build new energy infrastructure in a drive to increase the country’s power-generation capacity to satisfy domestic demand and for the export market.
Zambia Electricity Corporation (Zesco) has raised US$2.5 billion of the US$5b the country needs to facelift and build new infrastructure to increase power generation, transmission and distribution for industrial, domestic and consumption on the export market as espoused by Africa’s three leading economic blocs in their quest to integrate into one common market by 2018.
Zesco managing director, Cyprian Chitundu, says efforts have been stepped up to boost electricity-generation capacity through the rehabilitation and construction of several hydro-power plants.
Effort to raise the money is being undertaken under the company’s five-year masterplan, which seeks to raise the US$5b and meet the country’s installed capacity of more than 3 100 megawatts.
“We are moving tactfully and expeditiously to ensure that we raise the money we need for infrastructure development and we are seeking to ensure that we double up efforts and see to it that we have the needed infrastructure in place during the stipulated time,” Chitundu told recently.
Chitundu said the power utility is striving to form alliances and share power with various neighbouring countries and beyond to meet the needs of various consumers.
Efforts are underway to jointly raise US$3b to construct the Batoka Hydro Power plant with Zimbabwe to enable the two countries share 1 800 megawatts when completed by 2018.
Presently, Zesco is seeking alliances with Democratic Republic (DRC), Malawi and Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya and the Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia (ZiZaBoNa) through power-sharing initiatives to raise power availability and meet demand for domestic, industrial and export markets.
In recent years, Zambia has managed to import and export power to and from neighbouring countries to meet shortfalls needed for mining companies, industrial and other domestic consumers.
Recently, Zambia imported 210 megawatts of power from DR Congo while it also imported about 100 megawatts from Mozambique to replenish the outages that have affected the country in recent years, hence it seeks to rehabilitate its ageing infrastructure, which has lacked investment since 1937.
According to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), all countries are expected to raise and operate on average power tariffs of at least US$0.15/kilowatt/hour and a maximum of US$.021/kilowatt/hour.
Zambia is the lowest rated country with US$0.3/kilowatt/hour in tariff rates.
Zambia, a major copper producer in Africa, needs to upgrade infrastructure to meet the desires of SAPP, which is encouraging partnerships, according to resolutions made with various stakeholders at a recent regional conference.
According to Zambia’s Energy Regulation Board (ERB), the country’s Power Rehabilitation Project (PRP) was created to support the government’s efforts to enhance Zambia’s electricity supply industry to provide electricity cost-effectively and efficiently to stimulate more and inclusive growth in the local economy.
The PRP involves the rehabilitation and up-rating of the three major hydro power stations namely Kafue Gorge, Kariba North Bank and Victoria Falls.
Among the major achievements of the PRP are the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Kafue Gorge Power Station from 900 to 990 MW, the reinstating of the Victoria Falls Power Station to its full generating capacity of 108 MW as well as the up-rating of the Kariba North Bank power station from 600 MW to 720 MW.
The total generation capacity yielded from the PRP is 210 MW.
The main hydro power projects being implemented by Zesco include the Kariba North Bank Extension (360 MW), that was completed in 2013. The Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Project (750 MW) is planned for completion by 2017 while Itezhi-Thezhi Hydro Power Project (120 MW) is planned to be completed in February 2015.
According to the ERB, the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power project is among the widely anticipated power projects not only in Zambia but the Southern African Power Pool, as it is expected to give the much-needed relief to the power deficit and possibly turn Zambia into a regional power hub.