The government announced on Monday that the country faced a major electricity crisis as power generation capacity had not kept pace with an economic growth spurt.
The energy ministry said in a statement that power supply would be outstripped by demand by next year if no immediate solution was found to avert the situation.
For a long time, Zambia has had a surplus in power capacity from its main hydro-power plants which has allowed the country to export to neighbouring nations.
“The surplus capacity in generation is expected to run out by next year and has far-reaching implications on the national economy,” the statement said.
The government said the demand for power has been steadily growing at an average rate of 150 megawatts per year but current infrastructure developments in the nation had pushed demand too high.
The copper mining industry has experienced major development with foreign investors opening up greenfield mines, while old mines were being expanded following a surge in copper demand on the foreign market.
“The current capacity from our major power stations is not able to support this rate of growth,” the statement said.
Zambia’s power generation capacity stands at around 1 600 megawatts but needs to increase output to about 4 500 megawatts by 2010.
The government has called for a national conference next month to discuss the way forward on how to address the power supply deficit.