The Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection says the Load shedding will result into reduced production in various sectors such as mining, employee retrenchments and loss of income for majority small business.
JCTR Executive Director Fr. Emmanuel Mumba said the most affected will be those that could not invest in alternative energy sources and will experience increased production cost and subsequent price increases of basic commodity for those that invested in alternative additional sources of energy.
Father Mumba said Load shedding will most likely impact negatively on the growth of Zambia’s economy and general welfare of citizens.
He cited mining, manufacturing and the informal sector as some of the challenges that will find it challenging to operate at their maximum potential and without any corrective measures, their output will certainly reduce.
Father Mumba said the consequences of reduced output in various sectors and businesses will likely be lay-off of workers, loss of income among families, reduction in government revenue to be collected and reduced foreign exchange.
“Currently, the mining sector is the major driver of the Zambian economy, and any disruptions in its production capacity will have serious negative implications on the performance of the local currency and Zambian economy. Already, in the recent past, the Kwacha has faced serious challenges against major currencies such as the US dollar”, Father Mumba has said.
He added that Load shedding will also likely cripple micro, small and medium enterprises for most of them will likely fail to afford investing in alternative energy sources.
Father Mumba said these largely depend on a steady supply of electricity from Zesco and sadly this will lead to reduced income or income loss for many families especially those in the informal sector running businesses such as barbershops and saloons, increasing suffering for many ordinary already poor households.
He noted that in instances where businesses opt to invest in other additional sources of energy to sustain their operations, production costs will increase and subsequently prices of end products such as food will increase.
Father Mumba said the foregoing situation will make it harder for already struggling majority households to afford the already high cost of living.
He also expressed concern that with increased load shedding, charcoal will become the alternative source of energy for most households and this will likely increase demand for charcoal and will promote rampant cutting down of trees and charcoal production.
Father Mumba has wondered if the monopoly of electricity production by a government Parastatal still has room in a globalized economy.
He has since urged Government through ZESCO to logically load shed in a manner that will not adversely affect strategic businesses such as small-scale businesses where the majority poor strive to make a living.
He noted that there has been so much effort and concentration on hydro power generation and government needs to invest more to expand its power sources to include alternatives such as solar energy and Bio-fuels as these will not only be cheaper but will also be more sustainable.
Power Utility Company Zesco has commenced a four-hour daily load shedding starting on June 1st, 2019 which is expected to last until December 2019.
Government has attributed the decision to lower water levels at power generation points such as Kariba North Bank hence its decision to moderate power generation to facilitate generation until the next rainy season when the reservoirs are expected to be refilled.
Many stakeholders and citizens have expressed anxiety following their experience of massive load shedding in 2015.