Zambia and European Commission have signed a EURO 65 million financing agreement for the Lusaka Transmission Distribution Rehabilitation Project. The agreement was signed this afternoon in Brussels, Belgium, between Finance Minister Felix Mutati and European Commissioner for International Development, Neven Minica.
Speaking during a consultative meeting after the signing ceremony, Mr. Minica said the European Commission was delighted to maintain its partnership with Zambia, adding that, it is time the world stopped looking at Africa as an aid recipient but a formidable partner in development and a platform for stronger global trade.
“We are happy with the progress Zambia has made in project identification and preparation but would like to see a greater pace in absorption of 11th European Development Fund [EURO 484 million] resources.
“By end of 2017, Zambia has to access at least 80% of the remaining funds instead of waiting until 2020,” advised Mr. Minica.
“Going forward, the European Commission would like to institute de-risking, concessional facilities, and credit guarantee schemes for private sector investment in Africa,” in this regard, said Mr. Minica, “we will be participating in the Batoka Gorge Investor Conference to be held in Zambia.”
“We have EURO 4 billion under a facility called European Investment Fund, for providing the private sector with guaranteed concessional funds for investment in Africa,” Mr. Minica said.
Mr. Minica also affirmed that the European Commission was committed to investing in renewable energy in Africa and was, therefore, targeting the production of five giga watts [5GW] across the continent to assist in improving the access to electricity and clean energy.
And Mr. Mutati has thanked the European Commission for the EURO 65 million assistance provided under the National Indicative Programme [2014-2020]. The funds will facilitate the connection of more than 63,000 new customers to clean, reliable and affordable energy services.
The Minister his visit affirms Zambia’s commitment to a new and greater level of cooperation with the European Union.
“This agreement will not only facilitate reduction of system loses and improved load management, but also provide the requisite energy for the private sector to up their production and service levels,” said Mr. Mutati.
Mr. Mutati also assured the European Commission that Zambia was taking measures to improve absorption capacity and project implementation efficiency and effectiveness.