Govt must consider lifting suspension of tariff application by Zesco

Government must consider partially lifting the suspension of the tariff application made by Power Utility Company Zesco to the Energy Regulations Board, the Zambia Energy Forum has advised.

Zesco Limited has circulated a notice informing the public of the commencement of load shedding due to lower water levels in Lake Kariba and Kafue basin.

The Company has also sought to engage some stakeholders with a view to building some form of consensus on how to minimize the impact of load shedding on the economy.

Johnstone Chikwanda, the Forum Chairperson has urged Zesco to consider engaging government and the Energy Regulation Board with a view to re-activating the tariff application.

Mr Chikwanda said this should be done whether in totality or in form of an amended version to procure more electricity from Independent Power Producers or import from the region.

He noted that with Zesco depending on hydroelectricity by more than 90 percent, the utility is not well positioned in view of climate variability.

“However, government is commended for acknowledging this vulnerability and embarking on sector reforms which have seen other forms of energy such as thermal and solar being incorporated in the energy mix”, he said.

He has also commended ZESCO for taking a proactive role regarding consultations on how to minimize the impact of load shedding on the economy.

Mr Chikwanda said the circumstances ZESCO finds itself in is very unfortunate and sad because load shedding programme will cost the Company colossal sums of money in lost revenue.

“On the other side, the cost of the impact of load shedding on business cannot be underplayed. Load shedding also affects households. Load shedding affects the bottom line of both Zesco and industry. This will affect GDP to some extent if not well coordinated”, he has said.

Mr Chikwanda noted that what is even more worrying is that it is not clear when the load shedding programme will come to an end because we do not know when the water levels will improve.

He has said it may perpetuate throughout this year and extend to 2020 unless certain measures are agreed upon.

“The state of the energy security in the SADC region is not satisfactory at all given the number of households with no access to energy”, he has said

Mr Chikwanda has said this state of affairs has been aggravated by cyclone Idai in Mozambique which knocked out 900MW from the grid which feeds the region.

He has said that South Africa has also been experiencing some load shedding in recent months and the extent of energy poverty not only in Zambia but Sub Sahara Africa (SSA) is devastating to say the least.