ZAMBIA National Farmers Union president Jervis Zimba says alternative sourcing of power is inevitable.
Zimba said the productive sector was in dire need of electricity supply and the increased load-shedding by Zesco, as water levels at Kariba Dam and Kafue River drop to alarming levels, has reached crisis point.
He said under the circumstances, alternative sourcing of power was a must.
“News that Zesco Ltd is considering importing power to a tune of 300MW to supplement local power generation has elated farmers and deserves to be supported by all well-meaning Zambians,” he said.
Zimba said imported power would help the country to navigate the shortfall period which has arisen largely because of the poor rainfall pattern experienced last season.
He said the situation has further highlighted the dangers of over dependency on hydro generated power and accentuates the importance of accelerating the investments to diversify the country’s sources of power generation going forward.
“But for now, additional power supply should be imported with immediate effect and we want to urge government to consider this option with the speed it deserves. We are aware that importing power will come at an extra cost which means that it will be priced differently. As a major stakeholder, we are ready to support an upward tariff adjustment for the imported power so long as this is done in a transparent manner by Zesco Ltd and that it is not equated to a general increase of electricity tariffs. If anything, the measure should be temporary such that it disappears when local generation improves assuming good rainfall supply is experienced in the upcoming rainy season,” he said.
“What should be key and clearly understood by all is that the cost of production will go up. However, at this juncture, a hard choice must be made between having access to expensive power and paying for it, or having no power and business grounds to a halt.”
Zimba said ZNFU has been asked by the government to mobilise farmers to grow maize under irrigation so that the country has adequate national stocks of maize to safeguard national food security.
He said that would only be made possible if the farming areas have access to electricity for irrigation.
Zimba said ZNFU sees importing power as a safe buffer in achieving and managing the national load-shedding process.
“The ZNFU remains committed to discuss with the relevant authorities as businesses seek to survive the effects of reduced power supply which is one of the worst aftermaths of climate change which has been felt by all,” Zimba said.
He urged Zesco to further double its efforts in disseminating information on the power supply crisis being experienced and stick to the published load shedding time schedules.