Govt has mammoth task to increase access to electricity – Brig Gen Chola

MINISTRY of Energy permanent secretary Brigadier General Emelda Chola has expressed concern that most developers that want to come to Zambia want to go for on grid solutions when the only solution for the country to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 is to go with off grid solutions.

SDG 7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

On-grid is when the solar system is tied to the local utility’s system while off-grid is when the solar system is not connected in any way to the country’s grid’s power system.

During a panel discussion dubbed “The Unfinished Business: Universal Energy Access” on Tuesday during the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) 10th Anniversary meeting in Ouarzazate, Morocco, Chola said Zambia was open to foreign investment in the energy sector especially renewable energy.

Brig Gen Chola said the government was committed to work with private investors.

She said Zambia had abundant opportunities for generation of solar power and other forms of renewable energy.

However, she said universal access to electricity by 2030 could not be achieved if power utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa remained in their current state where most do not have sufficient financial resources.

Brig Gen Chola said Zambia had embarked on energy sector reforms to improve service delivery.

She bemoaned low access to electricity in rural areas, currently at four per cent.

“Our target is to reach about 51 per cent of people in rural areas accessing electricity by 2030 and 70 per cent for urban areas by the same timeline. However, for us to reach that target we have a mammoth task in that the government doesn’t have resources to go into grid extension,” Gen Chola said.

She said the government was collaborating with cooperating partners to finance rural electricity.

Brig Gen Chola said so far, the European Union and the World Bank had supported increased access to electricity services project.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host the Climate Summit on September 23 at the UN in New York.

And UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Ambassador Luis Alfonso De Alba held a consultative meeting with some African ministers on the sidelines of the CIF in which national development planning minister Alexander Chiteme participated.

Ambassador De Alba briefed the ministers about the one-day Climate Summit that would focus on getting UN Member States’ commitments on what they were doing or would do to combat climatic changes.

The Special envoy sought African countries’ input, which he could convey to the Secretary General, on how the Summit could be organised to ensure its success.

According to the ministry’s spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba, the theme for the 2019 Climate Summit is: ‘A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win,’ and it will seek to challenge Member States, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens to step up action in six areas namely energy transition, climate finance and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local action, and resilience.

Contributing during the meeting, Chiteme said Zambia remained committed to work closely with other countries to ensure that the global community proactively and speedily tackle climate change, which is detrimental to development efforts at the community, national and global levels.

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