ENERGY expert Johnstone Chikwanda has backed plans by Zesco to increase electricity tariffs by 75 percent, saying the measure will boost the country’s capacity to produce and supply power sustainably.
Mr Chikwanda, who is also Energy Forum Zambia chairperson, said Zesco’s migration to cost reflective tariffs would significantly cut Government electricity subsidies, enabling the Treasury to channel resources to other needy sectors.
Zesco has applied to the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to hike electricity tariffs up to 75 percent across various consumer categories, with an initial 50 percent increment to be effected on May 1, this year and an additional 25 percent on September 1, this year.
ERB has since responded that it is considering Zesco’s application, which the power utility has said was necessitated by the need for the country to attract investment in the power generation sector.
Mr Chikwanda said without energy sector reforms, it would also be difficult for the country to attain the United Nations sustainable development goal number seven on universal access to clean, sustainable and affordable electricity by 2030.
“Zambia’s electrification rate still remains one of the lowest in the world although it has been improving,” Mr Chikwanda said. “This is more the reason these energy sector reforms must be supported”.
He said the amount in subsidies Government had been spending on electricity had gone to supporting industries more than households, hence the subvention had not significantly assisted in increasing access to electricity at household level.