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Zesco seeks AfDB loan to improve liquidity

AMADOU Hott says the African Development Bank board of directors has approved to invest US$12 billion in the energy sector by 2020.

And AfDB vice-president for power,  energy and green growth Amadou Hott has revealed that Zesco last year imported power at a high cost and sold it cheaply, resulting in an exploration of a loan to improve liquidity.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Inonge Wina says Zambia and Zimbabwe have committed to ensuring that the price of power is cost-reflective to accommodate full recovery of US$4 billion being required by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) for the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES).

In his keynote speech at the ZRA-BGHES Investors Conference held at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge in Livingstone on Thursday, Hott said the AfDB made total approvals of $1.2 billion for the power sector in 2016.

“The board of directors of the bank has approved a strategy for the New Deal which commits the bank to invest US$12 billion in the energy sector  by 2020 and leverage additional financing of US$45 billion  to $50 billion mainly from the private sector and other development partners for the same period,” said Hott, adding that the loan agreement with Zesco was expected to be approved at the end of July.

Finance minister Felix Mutati said the ZRA-BGHES would only be sustainable if it is led by the private sector.
He said there is need for good governance and transparency for the project to be a success.

“This project is fully baked, fully cooked, fully packaged and the financing structure, however it will be constructed, should first start with the private sectors and then the public sectors. That is the only way it is going to be sustainable,” said Mutati.

And Zimbabwean finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said BGHES was first mooted in 1904 before the Kariba dam was envisaged.

He said the key driver in any economy was the sustainable provision of adequate electricity.

Chinamasa, however, said demand outstripped supply in Zambia, Zimbabwe and the entire SADC region, meaning that social economic development could not take place at the rate it was expected.

“There are large portions of our communities that fail to access electricity, thus putting pressure on the environment as they search 
for alternative energy. As a result, there is deforestation, a surge that the SADC region is battling with as contributes to global warming and climate change,” said Chinamasa.

Vice-President Wina said the BGHE scheme had been identified as a priority under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Vice-President Wina said the scheme had potential to provide electricity not only to the SADC region but also to the East African region.

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