PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday commissioned the more than US$153 million, 330 kilovolts (kv) Pensulo-Kasama transmission line in Kasama which will improve electricity supply to Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces.
The power project has augmented power supply to the three provinces from 66kv to 396 kv.
Mr Lungu said the increased power supply would promote industrial and commercial activities in the Northern circuit.
“For a long time, the people of Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces have experienced a severe low voltage and frequent power interruptions, a situation which has retarded industrial development and ultimately affected the livelihood of our people.
“Let me assure this gathering that today marks the end of power supply challenges here in the Northern, as well as Muchinga and Luapula provinces,” he said.
The Head of State said this at the site where he commissioned the project financed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICB) and executed by TBEA Limited, also from the Asian country.
Mr Lungu said the project, which would be replicated in Eastern Province, would support sharing between Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
He implored the private sector to invest in the light industrial area of the region following the commissioning of the power line.
“The potential for agriculture in this part of the country is enormous and the availability of electricity now in this circuit should be used to exploit the sector,” Mr Lungu said.
He also directed the Ministry of Energy to speed up the completion of all pending electricity generation and transmission projects, while the country should look for alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar.
TBEA vice-president Shang Yafei said the project, which created 200 jobs during construction, represented strong relations between Zambia and China.
Chief Luchembe, who spoke on behalf of traditional leaders in the area, commended the Government for the unprecedented developmental projects.
Mr Lungu later held closed-door talks with the traditional leaders who were led by Paramount Chief Chitimukulu Henry Kanyanta Sosala.
Earlier, the President who was in Shiwang’andu District in Muchinga Province called for the protection of the country’s forests which, if managed properly, could create jobs and wealth for the people.
Mr Lungu said the Government had recognised the forestry sector as a strategic economic industry with immense potential to contribute towards achieving the objectives of the industrialisation and job creation policy.
“My Government has recognised the forestry sector as one of the strategic sectors of our economy with immense potential to contribute towards achieving the objectives of the industrialisation and job creation policy.
“The capacity of the forestry sector to create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for our people is uncountable, ” Mr Lungu said.
He was speaking when he commissioned a forest plantation exercise worth K10 million.
The project, which was being spearheaded by the Zambia Forests and Forestry Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO), would create 2,000 jobs at plantation establishment stage, and 500 people had already been engaged in the preparatory phase.
More jobs would be created through wood processing and value addition activities when the trees, on the 300 hectares of land, reached maturity.
Mr Lungu was gratified with the number of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities under the project, stating that this was in line with the Patriotic Front manifesto of improving people’s lives.
The Head of State said reforestation was at the core of Government’s programmes aimed at addressing the effects of climate change and deforestation.
He said deforestation was clearly an impact of irresponsible activities undertaken for short-term commercial gains that left the majority of the people disadvantaged.
He directed Zesco and the Industrial Development Corporation to formulate strategies that would facilitate improvements in the treatment of timber locally.
He also directed Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda to source more funds that would enable ZAFFICO to roll out the forestry boosting programme countrywide.
Earlier, Mr Lungu held closed-door talks with five Muchinga chiefs at Senior Chief Mukwikile’s palace.
Others present at the meeting, apart from Chief Mukwikile, were senior chiefs Nkula, Mukungule, Kabanda and Chieftainess Nawaitwika.