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VJ urges more investment in renewable energy sector

WE MUST deliberately do more to attract investment in the renewable energy sector, says Vernon Mwaanga.

The veteran politician says the unbundling of Zesco should be expedited to separate generation from supplying like many countries have done.

In a statement, Mwaanga said Zambia’s energy deficit should have been foreseen many years ago.

He noted that while winter had arrived, marking a time when people depend on electric heaters and warm water to keep warm, Zesco had embarked on load-shedding to save power because of the insufficient rainfall last season and to enable Kariba Dam hydro power station and other hydro stations to produce enough power for mining, business and commercial enterprises as well as residential areas.

“Zesco has had no choice given this scenario, but to hopefully evenly and fairly load-shed their customers in an effort to keep our homes lit and the wheels of industry turning,” he stated.

“It’s also critically important for Zesco to strictly adhere to its advertised schedules like Eskom does in South Africa. It makes it a little easier and more bearable for business enterprises and households to plan. The inconvenient truth is that whichever way one looks at it, load shedding is a nuisance just as it is grossly inconvenient. No amount of sugar coating can ever describe it any other way.”

He acknowledged that load-shedding was not a new phenomenon in Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria and other parts of Africa and the world.

“Each time I have been invited out to dinner at homes of some of the most prominent people in Lagos, Abuja or Kinshasa, I have always been struck by the noise of generators everywhere.
It is a sign that energy is in very short supply everywhere and answers have not been easy to come by,” he stated.

“In the case of Zambia, we have been talking about the problem of energy deficit for many years and we seem to agree that renewable energy is the answer, either from solar, garbage waste or other forms. Unfortunately, talking alone without taking practical steps is not enough.”

Mwaanga stated that some progressive and foresighted companies like Maamba Coal Mine, Ndola Energy Company and Dangote had been involved in generation production which has supplemented Zesco’s efforts.

“Admittedly, this is not enough if the country is going to continue growing the economy and catering for an ever growing population. We must deliberately do more to attract investment in the renewable energy sector. We have an abundance of sunshine most of the year, which can produce energy for our country in times like this,” Mwaanga stated.

“Dependence on hydro power is no longer a viable or realistic option in the 21st century. We should plan outside the box and come up with viable and workable options for the future. We should also speed up the issue of unbundling Zesco so that we separate generation from supplying like many countries have done. There may be need to provide incentives to local and foreign companies willing to invest in this sector up to a certain number of years.”

He stated that many African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and others are now reaping the benefits of attracting investment in the renewable energy sector.

“One thing load shedding has taught us has been the need to save energy by not switching on electric appliances and lights we don’t need,” stated Mwaanga.

“This public education energy saving campaign must not only be taught to us when we ring Zesco Customer Care lines. This public awareness must become more widespread. I believe that this is the way forward for our country too.”

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