President Edgar Lungu has said government would consider the rationale of building more electricity generation plants in comparison to sourcing power from countries that have a surplus.
Mr. Lungu said Zambia might consider sourcing power to cushion the deficit from countries like South Africa which has a surplus of 2,000 megawatts of electricity.
The President said this kind of transaction can be done in the spirit of promoting regional integration.
I don’t see why Zambia should begin setting up new power stations if there is surplus energy in South Africa
“I don’t see why Zambia should begin setting up new power stations if there is surplus energy in South Africa which can be made available cheaply,” he said.
He pointed out that Zambia can benefit from regional integration through sourcing energy from countries with a surplus.
He added that the southern African region’s quest for industrialisation would not be realised if leaders do not visit one another to appreciate the context in which regional integration can be achieved.
Mr. Lungu said this in an interview with journalists after touring the Kusile power station project in Nkangala district of Mpumalanga province in South Africa today.
“Everyone wants to set up a power station in Zambia and Tanzania and Mozambique but at the end of the day we are talking of regional integration,” he explained.
He said the purpose of his visit was to see whether regional integration can be made quicker than it has been done in the past.
“My gut feeling now is that we sit down as Zambia and assess whether we need to have so many power plants in Zambia when there is excess energy in the region,” he said.
President Lungu said countries in the region should now be considering connectivity and interconnectivity to transmit power from one area to the other.
“Some resources can be excess to the needs of a country like South Africa but they could do for Zimbabwe, they could do for Zambia if we sit down together and see how much they can guarantee that they will produce cheaply at a reasonable price and make available to us,” he said.
The President said that way, the countries in the region can build their economies faster than they have done in the past.
And President Lungu said there are many lessons which Zambia has learnt through visiting the Kusile power station project which is being constructed by Eskom, the South African electricity supply company.
He said government will send a team of technocrats from the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporations (ZESCO) and Ministry of Energy to meet with Eskom and consider what could be done.
Mr. Lungu said his visit has enabled him to know how to addresses certain social, political and economic challenges in the country.
And the head of state said Zambia might consider the option of investing in nuclear power station to produce electricity.
He observed that nuclear energy production was safe as long as there is strict adherence to regulations guiding such undertakings.
He said Zambia would not use nuclear stations for bad purposes but for good reasons.
President Lungu was accompanied to Nkangala by Minister of Energy David Mabumba, Minister for Presidential Affairs Freedom Sikazwe, his presidential aides, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba and other officials.
Earlier, Eskom Group Executive Abram Masango said his company was supplying over 500 megawatts of power to Zambia.
Mr. Masango said Eskom also supplies power to Zimbabwe and Botswana.
He pointed out that Eskom was however facing limitations in supplying more power because of transmission lines.
The Kusile power station, which will be coal-fired, comprises six units with each unit having the capacity to produce 800 megawatts.
This means the Kusile power station, which is 77 percent complete, has a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts.
Over 80 percent of South Africa’s power generation is coal-fired.