The Economics Association of Zambia has commended Power Utility Company ZESCO for its proactive stance in managing the projected energy deficit across the sectors.
Dr. Austin Mwange, the Association Vice President said the EAZ acknowledges the systemic effects of drought across the Southern African region as a consequence of climate change effects, resulting in below average rainfall in areas where the Zambezi and the Kafue rivers flow hence impacting power generation capacity negatively.
Dr. Mwange said timely stakeholder engagement is a proactive step ZESCO has taken to enable for predictable business planning and this is a vivid attestation of the lessons learnt during the 2015/2016 energy deficit era.
He said the engagement carried out by the power utility in Lusaka, and Copperbelt provinces will allow for predictable business planning across the industry, thereby enabling players to equip themselves with backup energy supplements.
Dr. Mwange said much as a load management is disruptive to operations of businesses, the approach ZESCO has taken will ensure that effects of predictable outages are managed appropriately.
He added that the openness in information dissemination will curb speculation thereby managing uncertainty better.
Dr. Mwange added that Zambia is on a growth trajectory that entails rising demand for power which is forecast to rise to 3,000 Megawatts by 2021 and by 2030 is expected to climb higher to 3,525 megawatts.
He said there is need to widen additional supply through increased investment in well diversified energy sources and the exponential and sustainable increase in demand for electricity is due to growth in economic activities that the country has been experiencing and will continue to experience.
Dr. Mwange said Zambia therefore has no choice to finding solutions that will provide sustainable, clean and affordable energy supply as the economy continues to grow.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mwange has called for aggressive diversification in energy investment so as to hedge against hydrological risks of over-dependence on water for power generation.
He said Energy bottlenecks vividly signal the need to increase investment in the sector which provides funding opportunities for investment partners.
Dr. Mwange said Zambia is 84% dependent on hydro while the remaining 16% is exposure to Heavy Fuel Oils -HFOs such as coal and geothermal sources.
He has bemoaned the impact the deficit will have on the manufacturing and mining ecosystem especially that these sectors consume over 57% of the grid.
Dr. Mwange has since forecast this deficit as a major contributor of cost push inflationary pressure which will impact private sector pulse and is confident the proactive step taken by ZESCO will help business offset some of the risks posed by unpredictable load management.
He has advised the mining and manufacturing entities to consider investing in power generation facilities to self-sustain their operations thereby easing to ease pressure of the grid in times as these.