he Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has approved ZESCO’s application to increase upwards connection fees, effective 1st January 2023.
Addressing the media this afternoon ERB Board Chairperson, Reynolds Bowa says having thoroughly examined the proposal, the Board has approved a 70:30 cost sharing mechanism where the consumer would meet 70 percent of the ERB’s determined cost of connection while ZESCO would finance the remaining 30 percent.
Mr. Bowa explained that going forward ERB would Continue to explore ways of balancing utility financial sustainability and affordability which includes, among other things, the possibility of embedding the connection fees within the domestic electricity structures.
He said in it’s application for increased connectivity charge the utility company stated that it has challenges to promptly connect new customers resulting in a backlog of 67,000 pending applications as of 31st December 2021.
Mr. Bowa he has urged the utility company to implement payment options that would allow consumers pay connection fees over a 12 months period and should strictly adhere to ERB’S approved charges for standard connections.
ZESCO Limited had submitted to ERB that failure to approve the proposed upward revision of the standard connection fees will result in continued delay in connection of customers to the national grid leading to another backlog of unconnected customers on the waiting list.
In his presentation at a public hearing in October, on ZESCO Limited’s connection charges application in Lusaka , Company Director of Planning Malama Bwalya says this will also worsen ZESCO’s financial position and further lead to poor service provision.
Mr. Bwalya disclosed that the prevailing economic conditions are hampering ZESCO’s ambition to connect all customers desiring to be connected to the national grid as it is costly.
But some of the submitters have opposed ZESCO’s application for new standard connection fees stating that the same way the company was able to sponsor political parties and 16 football teams in the past is how it can subsidize customers wishing to be connected.
The submitters who include the Consumer and Unity Trust Society -CUTs- observed that if approved, the new fees will result in increased poverty levels in the country and limit the growth capacity of Small Medium and Enterprise -SMEs- while others have supported the proposed increment but say it should be done in a phased manner.