Only 26 per cent out of the country’s over 13 million population is being served with electric power, a senior Zambia Electricity and Supply Company (ZESCO) official has disclosed.
Presenting a paper on the electricity distribution and challenges in Kalomo at an Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) district focus meeting recently, Southern province Acting ZESCO Regional Manager, Bright Mwaipopo said the country’s electricity deficit still stands at 165 mega watts compared to the 1,900 mega watts the power utility company generates against the current 2,065 mega watts of customer’s demand.
Mr Mwaipopo however said with the coming up of the ‘increased access to electricity’ programme with the financial assistance from the World Bank, more people would be connected to the national grid while others are advised to use alternative sources of energy such as solar panels.
And officiating at the meeting, Kalomo District Commissioner, Patrick Phiri observed that the country had for some time now been experiencing power shortages which has resulted into load shedding which he attributed to high demand that has outstripped ZESCO’s generation capacity.
Mr Phiri however, said government was doing everything possible to address the issue.
He said works on the extension of the Kariba North Bank to give an extra 360 mega watts which are expected to be completed by January next year are progressing well while the construction of Itezhi-Tezhi hydro power station which is also expected to generate 120 mega watts once completed are some of the projects being undertaken to address the power deficit.
“Government is also facilitating the construction of two thermal power stations in Sinazongwe district which are expected to produce 900 mega watts when full production is attained. These projects and many others underway placed all over the country, such as Kabompo hydro power
project (40 mega watts), Kafue George lower (750 mega watts) once completed will contribute significantly and minimize or completely eradicate load shedding,” said Mr Phiri.
Meanwhile, Mr Mwaipopo has justified that load shedding was a mere system to protect the system from collapsing during peak hours when demand is high arguing that it was not a deliberate move as perceived by its customers that it was the time when the power company was exporting electricity to its neighbouring countries.
He said the company only exports power during times when its generation capacity is underutilized especially at night.