Chiyumbe urges govt to negotiate BSA with CEC

ENGINEER Geoffrey Chishimba Chiyumbe is asking the government to reassess and negotiate the Bulk Supply Agreement with Copperbelt Energy Corporation.

Chiyumbe said this must be done in the interest of Zambians and not to benefit few selfish individuals.

“Zambia first before self. No need for any party to be arrogant or act out of naivety,” Chiyumbe said in a statement.

Zesco has decided not to renew the BSA with CEC which is due to expire in March.

According to Chiyumbe, CEC owns, maintains and operates a vast network of power transmission and distribution infrastructure covering the entire Copperbelt Province and has an embedded thermal electricity generation capacity of 80MW, which is used for emergency power supply, as an added value service to its customers, and for voltage management.

The transmission and distribution segments have two key players namely CEC and Zesco, with CEC responsible for bulk transmission and distribution to the mines on the Copperbelt.

It has more than 60 years of supplying power to the mines with over 1,000 kilometres of 220kV and 66kV transmission lines, including amongst other assets, 42 high voltage substations and dedicated control centre.

The company transports (transmits) electricity for Zesco on the Copperbelt and undertakes international wheeling or transportation of power for Zesco and other utilities in the region, using its interconnection with the DRC. CEC co-owns the interconnector with SNEL, the DRC’s national power utility. The BSA is presently the contract that governs the formal business relationship between CEC and Zesco covering technical, commercial and legal aspects.

“It is worth noting here that neither entity has ever owned the other. CEC and ZESCO have always existed as two separate companies or legal establishments, fully independent of each other, with CEC having been incorporated very early in the 1950s and servicing mining companies by 1953 before Zesco existed,” Chiyumbe said. “Zesco was to be established later. Since the assets belong to CEC, Zesco will have no option but to negotiate with CEC to use their infrastructure for Zesco to wheel power from its generating plants to the clients. In which case CEC will charge what is called the wheeling charge – Transport fare – on Zesco. Otherwise how is Zesco in its current state of financial incapacitation going to transport its power from its generating stations to the mines without using the existing CEC infrastructure? Does Zesco plan to obliterate CEC completely from the picture? Eliminating CEC completely from the equation will entail massive job losses on the Copperbelt and loss of revenue for ZRA amongst other things. The current inefficiencies at Zesco in its present state will then be transferred and introduced to the energy – sensitive mining sector. This move would also be against the current government policy to attract private sector participation in the energy industry. We don’t want one day to wake up and find the entire Copperbelt Province including the mines plunged into total darkness. Such would be very irresponsible for all parties involved and we would treat it as a crime against humanity, as it would cripple the already limping Zambia’ s economy which is mainly driven by the Copperbelt with the mines providing the biggest portion of the much needed foreign exchange and a major revenue contributor.”

Chiyumbe argues that the relationship between Zesco and CEC is mutually symbiotic and synergistic.

“It is an obligate relationship where no one can survive without the other,” said Chiyumbe. “We could have avoided all these debates if only government had put in place the implementation team that was going to execute cabinet approved recommendations made by the energy sector reforms task force which President Edgar Lungu had appointed. These are well honed Zambian industry experts from private and public sector who did a thorough diagnostic review of the energy sector challenges and were ready to carry out the implementations which included amongst others this issue of BSA.”

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