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Alba Iulia
Thursday, September 9, 2021

Thank you for Ending Load Shedding: “Zambia has lost productivity worth billions of dollars due to energy poverty”

Columns Thank you for Ending Load Shedding: “Zambia has lost productivity worth billions...

By Johnstone Chikwanda

A few weeks ago, Zesco Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs Dr. John Kunda was hosted on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) TV1 19:00 hours news to give an update to the nation on the state of electricity supply. Using this media platform, Dr. Kunda eloquently informed the nation that load shedding has finally ended in Zambia.

Demand for energy has been increasing in Zambia every year. Not only has there been increased demand for electricity every year but also for fuel. According to national consumption statistics obtained from the Energy Regulation Board (ERB), annual fuel consumption has doubled over the past 10 years. This can only be attributed to national economic growth. Multiple research findings have axiomatically concluded that demand for energy is directly related to economic growth. Comparatively, national security is also directly related to energy security.

Zambia has for a long time experienced excruciating electricity rationing due to energy poverty. Energy poverty is a state of not having enough energy as and when it is needed any time. The bane of this energy poverty is attributed to inadequate investment in the sector over the past 30 years. As the economy grew, demand for energy concomitantly surged upwards thereby creating a vexatious and elusory demand-supply imbalance.

With the vagaries of climate change taking a toll effect on hydro power captive markets such as Zambia, the lessons harvested from prolonged hours of load shedding which lasted up to 16 hours a day will never be forgotten. Naturally, the electricity generation capacity of a country is built around its national arbitrage. Therefore, being consonantly situated in its endowed massive water bodies, Zambia is heavily dependent on hydro-electricity. To this end, the climate change impact has been axiomatic.

To turn around the status quo, energy sector reforms aimed at creating an attractive investment climate had to be launched. Energy sector reforms are a harbinger for improving energy security. Well crafted and implemented reforms can serve as an effective tool for repainting the canvas of a fledgling energy sector. This is what the Government of the Republic of Zambia has done over the past 10 years.

At the heart of the energy reforms lies a journey to remove costly and unhealthy subsidies, diversification and removing industry imperfections. Trapped in a trilemma, painful and difficult decisions which included electricity tariff upward adjustments by 75% in one year a couple of years ago had to be made and implemented. Currently, Zambia’s energy transition is being informed, guided, directed and mentored by the National Energy Policy of 2019, Electricity Act of 2019 and Energy Regulation Act of 2019.

In view of the foregoing, it is not shocking news that in 2020 Zambia attracted projected investment of $1.7 billion in the energy sector as announced by the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) last week. Indeed, energy sector reforms are serving as a plank for advancing the development of the sector. Solar power and coal-fired power plant have been commissioned. A plethora of off-grid installations has been concluded.

Not only that, but considerable donor funding from the World Bank, United Kingdom, United States of America, European Union and other bilateral support has been poured in Zambia’s energy nexus. One such support includes the World Bank funded Electricity Supply Access Project (ESAP) which has benefited thousands of households just to mention but a few. The entire off grid topography has changed in Zambia as some investors in off grid household solar installation business have connected hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries in different parts of the country.

Zambia’s energy story can not be told without mentioning vertically integrated power utility Zesco Limited. As a front runner at fostering energy security, it has invested heavily in modernizing and expanding its generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure. Among the main projects concluded is the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower (KGL) plant; a game changer in Zambia’s energy fortune basket.

Kafue Gorge Lower is a legacy project which required very strong leadership on the part of those who occupy alpha positions both at national level and Zesco Limited. To this end, I wish to commend Government of Zambia under the watch of the current President Dr. Edgar. C. Lungu for driving this project to where it is today and for ending load shedding. I also wish to commend the Chinese Government for its role in this gigantic piece of energy infrastructure which straddle across the 1,576 km Kafue River.

It would be unfair for me not to commend Zesco management and staff for this power plant which will be commissioned this year according to the National Economic Recovery Plan for Zambia. Am very convinced that Zesco Managing Director; a former engineer at Africa’s biggest power utility company Eskom is a happy man not just for concluding the 750 MW KGL among many projects concluded but also for ensuring that load shedding has ended under his watch.

Ending load shedding is a very big achievement in a continent trapped in energy trilemma with over 600 million Africans with no access to clean energy. It qualifies for recognition and award. Zambia has lost productivity worth billions of United States Dollars over the past decades due to energy poverty. Therefore, gallant women and men who have immensely contributed to defeating load shedding need to be recognized. Not only has this feat been achieved but Government has undoubtedly placed Zambia on the path of becoming a leading net exporter of energy in Sub-Sahara Africa.

The Author is an energy expert and a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Zambia, a PhD candidate at Johnson University, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

31 COMMENTS

  1. Load shedding is just on hold until elections are over. Should we make the mistake of bringing these pf clowns back, we will have ourselves to blame.

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  2. ONLY BECAUSE NOW THERE IS ENOUGH WATER TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY COME OCTOBER ONCE WATER LEVELS HAVE DROPPED AND WE WILL BE BACK TO LOAD SHEDDING !!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. If this is true then time to undertake the next logical step, CONNECT MAJORITY ZAMBIAN HOUSEHOLDS TO THE GRID to save our forests. Zambia has lost millions of acres of forest due to charcoal burning. An environmental catastrophe which contributes to climate change.

    Anyway, congratulations to everybody responsible for this dream coming true…..NO MORE LOADSHADING! That doesn’t even sound right in the same sentence with Zambia/ZESCO. I remember loadshading going as far back as the 1980s when I was in Secondary school. Wow, at least now someone or something is working right in Govt.

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  4. It’s clear Johnstone Chikwanda lives abroad, and can’t experience loadshedding first hand. And after the elections loadshedding will be rampant again, as Lake Kariba levels will go down. Zesco was instructed by State House to declare loadshedding over, but everybody knows it will start again on August 13!

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  5. Thanks to the parties involved in making the dream come true. It is good to appreciate what the current government has done for the nation than to just criticize everything. Stop being bamutashya ngafili kukanwa.

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  6. Load shedding is over. That is another success by the pf. If you think Zambia is bad then move to your fellow monkeys country seer1, in Nigeria where electricity is a treat for them

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  7. Chikwanda already declares Kafue Lower’s 750MW as completed, but it is not. Zesco says it will be online before the end of the year, however work on site has stopped for some months now and the Chinese contractor has left the site. Doubtful it will be online this year, and consequently it won’t help preventing loadshedding after the elections when Lake Kariba levels go down. Loadshedding is NOT over!

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  8. @5 What makes you think loadsheding will be rampant after election ? You must understand that Zambia needs 1,900 of power and installed capacity is somewhere about 1,800 without 750mw kafue lower that’s why loadshedding is experienced when the Kariba isn’t generating so basically kafue lower is surplus if Kariba is not generating. Get the facts right ECL has delivered on this one.

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  9. June 16, 2021 At 9:23 am
    @5 What makes you think loadsheding will be rampant after election ? You must understand that Zambia needs 1,900 of power and installed capacity is somewhere about 1,800 without 750mw kafue lower that’s why loadshedding is experienced when the Kariba isn’t generating so basically kafue lower is surplus if Kariba is generating. Get the facts right ECL has delivered on this one.

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  10. Kafue gorge lower was found already negotiated, signed and contract awarded in readiness to begin construction. Johnstone Chikwanda was most likely privy to the reason why his friends cancelled the contract and only to award it to the same contractor at a higher cost. Kafue gorge was supposed to come on stream by 2018 had Johnstone Chikwanda’s friends not cancelled the contract. Chikwanda won’t mention that even if he lives to a thousand years.

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  11. Less than 20% Zambians are connected to the national grid, so how can load shedding end when Zesco has hundreds of clients that aren’t yet connected despite having paid connection fees? The Rural Electrification Authority has got a long way to go in terms of providing electricity to our rural folks. What we have now is an artificial power surplus, it’ll soon end. We must make fundamental changes to the Electricity Act in order to open up the market. Let’s allow Independent Power Producers to sell their electricity directly to consumers. That’s what will bring about competition and in turn efficiency. It’ll also attract investment. The inefficiency at Zesco has crippled this viable sector

  12. This Johnstone Chikwanda is another bootlicker like that ECZ Russian trained Economist. PF is very predictable everyone knew loadsheding will end temporarily before elections.

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  13. Then why are we still experiencing power black outs? Load shedding is still there they are not just announcing.

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  14. The load shedding ended last year December. But it is not easy as expected from the retrogressive opposition in Zambia to acknowledge. Thanks for giving us the power to drive the economy.
    Cholera? When last did you hear of the dreaded disease? What would have happened to Zambia combined with Covid19? The perennial cholera was knocked down by the Patriotic Front.
    Those are so scores from PF. Whoever is winning 12 August election would have a good start.
    Malaria. Lusaka urban has almost kissed goodbye to malaria.

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  15. There are mile stones towards electrification and diversification of the countries ERPs to increase the Generation mix and potential the MVAs and the kilometers of miles of electricity lines created Yes there has been some remarkable progress made towards the Un goals and National Energy Strategy but the Rate at which the creation of those access and capacities could have been higher than being expected here But as usual Connections and generation plant capacity creations may take some time to reach commission operation The case in point is this Kafue Gorge Lower We also expect the National utility to now reinvest to position itself for robust…

  16. robust electrification strategy to realize the potential of those reserve margins created and contribute towards the anticipate accelerated GDP growth that we expect as a result Having said that There is more for the industry to contribute to the economic growth and job creation within the sector away from tradition electricity and create industries and sectors around it The FDIs in the sector as a measure of GDP as below exceptions They should have been above 17B So we expect more and Innovative solutions to add to capacity and access.Again we know that the pace of energy capacity creation must exceed the rate of economic growth to reserve and export the rest and live up…

  17. Again we know that the pace of energy capacity creation must exceed the rate of economic growth to reserve and export the rest and live up to the regional electricity hub It will also be import to align to world class utilities and see there potential installed capacity and as a utility our 3000 MW should grow to 100000MW in energy mixes

  18. @Boss

    Load shedding is when when you have a small bread but you want it to go round so many people to have a share of bite. So you ration the little power at distribution point to prevent system failure and allowing all to have predictable scheduled access.

    Power cut, is an electrical break outage or fault in transmission line caused by a “dead” equipment, routine maintenance or a fresh installation/connection.
    Since load shedding ended last year, Bosses, you are experiencing outages.

  19. Load shedding is over till elections as we need power to monitor the election.Water levels will go down after August so we may
    Experience some loadshedding then.

  20. Zesco has been importing massive amounts of power at high cost and subsidizing heavily because it’s an election year and they have been told no more blackouts and no price increases until after August. Just wait until September when consumers will be hit with a big increase in electricity and fuel charges to recover what they lost in this period.

  21. Energy expat my a.s.s. This moron is another Educated Zambian fool looking for a job or some recognition. What has he done in the energy sector to be referred to as “expat” ?He is just misleading innocent Zambian with false information.

  22. @FakeKaizerZulu, away from electronic media you must be an exceptionally stupid, low self esteemed human. A fool. A real life walking, talking *****. Probably a wanker as well.

  23. I thank PF Government for building 750 MW Kafue Lower to increase Zambia Generator to over 3000 MW. That does not mean load shedding is over. Zambian hydro is not designed on the lowest water to provide electricity continuously without load shedding throughout a year. It is irresponsible by the doctor to say no shedding. That is misleading Zambians.

  24. Kariba is 50% full at the moment so by Oct it will be less than 20% full, thus there won.t be enough water to make the turbines work. SA has already gone back to load shedding, time to forget Batoka and the other dams and do solar farms , its cheaper and solar is the way forward in 2022

  25. With higher expected economic activity creating demand pressures on so far added capacity Generation in hydro and Renewables plus others ) The YOY capacity addition both for conventional and non conventional must be at least grow at 7% year on year that is 2021 to 2026 To meet this level of demand in electricity consumption.What has been added is good by what is important is the grow in generation year on year that keeps pace with economic growth and more so in resilient methods and well diversified energy generation mix variability and flexibility as prices average DAM prices converge to market prices that are much lower that in non…

  26. You people, even when you are mourning insele tashifuma mutunwa. Please let’s mourn KK in unity as the man symbolises unity.

  27. Dominion – 85% of the voters voted KK out, in 1991 so the country was not in unity, so he doesn’t symbolize unity today either, for the future we must think ahead for the future and sadly both current contenders are only interested in their ego’s and cash in their pockets- no forward thinkers.

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