Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Brian Mundubile, has called on the Zambian government to reject ZESCO’s application to increase electricity tariffs by 37 percent. The energy provider has made this proposal to the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) in an attempt to attract more investment in power generation and distribution and reduce Zambia’s reliance on hydro power.
Mr. Mundubile, who is also the PF Presidential Candidate, believes that the high fees would disadvantage the vulnerable population. He cited the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP), which contains one of the pillars of reducing developmental inequalities by connecting people to electricity. The former PF Government’s policy was to connect as many Zambians as possible to reduce poverty.
“Government needed to look at the cheapest way of doing so because the benefits are many,” he said.
Mr. Mundubile also highlighted that connecting more people to electricity is crucial in moving them away from deforestation. Many Zambians rely on forests for energy and other uses. Connecting them to electricity would address deforestation and provide an affordable, clean source of energy. Mr. Mundubile added that the UPND administration must assess the capacity of the people targeted in rural electrification. The vulnerable population in rural areas cannot afford the proposed high tariffs.
“Those that have the capacity to connect already connected. There are many people that were coming on board as a result of the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) extending connections to rural areas and this will be disturbed by the rise in tariffs,” he said.
In conclusion, the proposed tariff increase of 37% by ZESCO will make electricity inaccessible to a significant portion of the population. The government must consider alternative, cost-effective ways to connect Zambians to electricity to help reduce poverty and deforestation. It is imperative that the government assesses the capacity of the people in rural areas that are most vulnerable and unable to afford the proposed high tariffs. The UPND administration must balance investment in power generation and distribution with affordability and accessibility for all Zambians.