The Luapula Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the government to intensify its diversification of the energy mix in the country in order to avoid economic activities which are harmful to the environment.
Chamber President, Emmanuel Munsanje, noted that investing in alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and bioenergy will minimise over-reliance on hydropower thereby addressing energy deficits the country is facing.
Mr Munsanje told ZANIS in an interview that increasing access to reliable sources of energy will ultimately eradicate the use of charcoal and consequently reduce deforestation.
He said there is need to address issues that force people to buy charcoal.
“Some people still rely on charcoal as a source of energy for domestic use. When communities across the country have access to electricity, there will be no need for charcoal. As long as there is a demand for charcoal, charcoal burners will stay in the business,” he explained.
Mr Munsanje added that charcoal traders should be sensitised on the negative effects of deforestation, which contributes to climate change.
He said charcoal traders need to be encouraged to venture into environmentally friendly sources of income.
“Charcoal burning is not the only source of income in rural areas. Government has created empowerment opportunities such as the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which vulnerable people can utilise to improve their livelihoods. But this calls for stakeholders to sensitise communities and change their mindsets,” he said.
Meanwhile, chief Sokontwe of the Ushi people in Milenge district in Luapula Province has pledged to give land to people who want to engage in green economic activities in his chiefdom.
Chief Sokontwe stated that those who want to venture into tree planting as a business or for environmental protection are free to approach him.
“We have plenty of fertile customary land in my chiefdom. All those who want land for agribusinesses, agroforestry and other sustainable projects are welcome,” he said.