“Government invested in generation of power beyond Kariba Hydro Power Station and can sustain power supply to the country without loadshedding if it only cut its current exports.
Government and ZESCO Ltd must disclose to Zambians the current electricity being exported to the region. Patriotic Front Presidential Candidate, Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba has demanded full disclosure as ZESCO embarks on six-hour load-shedding of power to residential and industrial customers beginning on 15th December 2022.
Energy Minister, Hon. Peter Kapala confirmed to Parliament that Zesco power load shedding programme will start on 15th December 2022 owing to the low-levels of water in the Kariba Dam.
Mr. Mwamba however said, the investment done in the last 10 years demonstrated that the country has enough power to avoid load-shedding even in the light of low-water levels in Kariba Lake.
Kariba Hydro Power station has a combined generation of 1,110 megawatts. He said the Patriotic Front Government invested in power generation capacity in the last 10years that raised the country’s installed capacity of power from 2,000 megawatts to 3,456 megawatts.
He said this installed capacity was against a peak national demand of approximately 2,300 megawatts. He said it was in this light that the country could achieve an excess of 1,156 megawatts and therefore export it.
He said it was therefore absurd to impose the penalty of load-shedding when the country will still produce more than its peak demand even after reducing generation of power at Kariba Dam.
He said PF Government invested in Itezhi-Itezhi Hydro power station, Lunzua, Chishimba, Musonda Falls, Lusiwasi and Kafue Gorge Lower, and the loadshedding was therefore being done to meet power exports contracts and commitments.
Zambia was exporting to the Southern Africa Power Pool(SAPP) and at bilateral level to Namibia, Tanzania, DRC, South Africa, Malawi and Bostwana.
Amb. Mwamba also called on Minister of Energy Hon. Peter Kapala to abolish lucrative conditions of service and creating of top-heavy executive positions by ZESCO Managing Director who has given himself new conditions of services and upgraded all senior positions.
He wondered where the IDC and Ministry of Energy to allow the excessive abuse of power and unmitigated looting going on at ZESCO.
Amb. Mwamba said this is contrary to the recent recommendations by the Cost of Service Study and Government’s own Green Paper responding to measures to be done at ZESCO.
He said ZESCO was debt-laden and required effective debt management, efficiency in revenue management and an aggressive cost optimisation which should reduce operating costs throughout the entire value chain.
He said he was therefore shocked to learn that Management at ZESCO had given itself ridiculous luxurious conditions of service and created new management positions despite the dire financial status of ZESCO and against the recommendations of the Cost of Service Study.
Mr. Mwamba also called on ZESCO to renegotiate its expensive agreements with Independent Power Producers such as Maamba Power, Lunsemfwa, Bangweulu Solar and others where ZESCO was paying in excess of $40million per month an amount which was not sustainable.
Amb. Mwamba also appealed to Government to disclose details of the new Bulk Supply Agreement between ZESCO and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) as some shareholders are linked to government leaders.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe disclosed plans to import 500MW of power from neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia, but crisis-hit South Africa is also competing for the same power to shore up its shortfall.
Zimbabwe has already spent over US$1bn in imports over the last decade but financing for renewable energy remains low.
The country is currently undergoing a severe load shedding schedule, with the crisis coming to a head in the last fortnight, when the Zambezi River Authority ordered Zimbabwe’s Kariba South power station to shut due to dangerously low water levels in Lake Kariba.
Experts say the country’s coal-powered thermal plants are supposed to supply the baseload power, but the aged generators frequently break down.
“It has forced authorities to draw heavily on Kariba, exhausting the annual water allocation and eating into neighbouring Zambia’s share. Water levels were already low because of successive droughts,” the BBC reported.
Zimbabwe has sunk about $2bn (£1.6bn) into power generation in the last decade. But the country still struggles with outages.
The country is currently producing about 600 megawatts (MW) of power against a daily demand of about 2,000MW.
Zimbabwe has been allowed to continue generating up to 300MW from Kariba, said Gloria Magombo, the head of the energy ministry. The river authority will review the water levels in early January following the start of the rainy season.
“We now give each other chances to cook, one over there and other there,” said one of the affected residents, pointing around the small backyard. “It’s the same as not having electricity because when it comes around [midnight] the children are sleeping. Now we are in [the Christmas period] I don’t know what we are going to do.”
The government believes the problems are temporary and targets 3,500MW of power generation within the next two years. In the short-term it says one more unit at the Hwange thermal power station will be commissioned by the end of the year, adding 300MW to the grid, and that water levels are beginning to rise again at Kariba.