Hon. Eng. Peter Chibwe Kapala, the Minister of Energy, has said that electricity has become the highest non-Agro export for Zambia.
In a statement yesterday in which he announced that the New Dawn Government has taken steps to reduce the exports of electricity to other countries by 100MW in order to mitigate the impact of loadshedding on citizens. The reduction is broken down as 40MW cut from the off-peak and standard exports by ZESCO and 60MW from the exports by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC).
“We understand the difficulties that loadshedding poses to our citizens and we are taking steps to ensure that we balance our power exports with the needs of our citizens,” said Minister Kapala. “Copper remains the highest export earner for Zambia, but there are limited dollars being remitted back into the country due to the nature of mine ownerships and copper trading. However, export earnings from electricity can have a better impact on the economy, including the strengthening of the Kwacha. This is because ZESCO is wholly-owned by the people of Zambia and the company’s foreign earnings will flow back into the country.”
According to the Minister, electricity has become the highest non-Agro export for Zambia. “For example, in March 2022, Zambia made electricity exports of K300 million (about $18 million),” he said. “ZESCO has contracts to supply power to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and the DRC totalling 430MW. We are taking steps to ensure that we balance our power exports with the needs of our citizens.”
The Minister went on to provide more details on the figures he mentioned earlier. He said that in March 2022, ZESCO exported 80MW to Botswana Power Corporation, 70MW to SNELL of Congo DR, 100MW to Namibia’s Nampower, and 100MW to Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. In addition, CEC exported 60MW of power to the DRC. This brings the total exported power to 430MW.
He also added that ZESCO had signed an agreement with Nampower of Namibia to start supplying 80-megawatts of power in addition to the 100-megawatts that the company had been supplying from an earlier agreement signed in 2020. This new agreement allows ZESCO to earn 50 million US Dollars (about K874.4 million at the time of signing) per year for the next 10 years. Similarly, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) was importing 100 MW from Zambia, under an agreement premised on Zimbabwe making pre-payments for the 100 MW come from Kafue Gorge Lower. The condition precedent is that ZESA has to pay monthly deposits of USD 6.3 million to enjoy the facility.
The Minister acknowledged that the low water levels in the Kariba Dam have forced Kariba North Bank to cut its generation from 1,080MW (1.08GW) to 600MW and this has led to loadshedding. “This situation has been made worse by Maamba Collieries Limited taking off its 150-megawatts generator from supplying the national grid due to routine annual maintenance,” he said.
To address this, the New Dawn Government has asked ZESCO and CEC to reduce their exports to other countries. They have also asked Maamba Collieries Limited to reduce the time to be taken for their routine annual maintenance of their generator so that load shedding is reduced as soon as possible. “We have also asked that Kafue Gorge Lower, Kariba North Bank, and other power stations increase their power generation in order to get rid of loadshedding completely,” said the Minister.
“Whilst the levels at Kariba has started to go up, we have to remember that this is the lowest level of water in the Kariba Dam in the month of January since 1995 and this is due to both climate change and unsustainable usage of water for generation by both Zambia and Zimbabwe over the last 8 years,” he added.
Minister Kapala reassured that he will shortly be updating the public on what the government is doing in the solar energy sector and in the hydro-power sector to get new stations or expansions online. “We are committed to finding sustainable solutions to our energy crisis, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that our citizens have access to reliable power,” he said. He also added that the government has been working on a number of projects that will bring more power to the national grid in the coming months. The Minister said “We are developing new hydro power stations, and we have also been expanding the existing ones. Additionally, we are working on a number of solar energy projects that will be able to generate power for the national grid. These projects will take time to be completed, but we are confident that they will bring the much-needed power to our citizens.”