Tuesday, 23rd January, 2023. Press Statement Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) International Lusaka’s response to reduction in load shedding hours. Tuesday, 23rd January, 2023.
FOLLOWING the government’s announcement last Thursday that load shedding would be reduced from 12 to 8 hours, CUTS notes attempt to manage the load-shedding hours, which continue to be high and a serious problem for both commercial and residential users. CUTS Country Director Angela Mulenga explains that consumers must be load-shed twice daily for a total of eight hours, which reduces the amount of productive time, particularly for the infant growing industry. As regards to the business operators, Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) are the most affected resulting to loss of production, which in turn impacts their livelihood. Ms. Mulenga said the high cost of fuel has increased operating costs for MSMEs that can afford generators, which has an adverse effect on performance and production. The aforementioned impacts could ultimately lead to the closure of majority MSMEs, which would result in the loss of jobs that the current administration is attempting to avert.
At household level, consumers are being compelled to invest in alternative energy sources such as solar power, generators, coal, and charcoal. “This has a significant financial impact because households now have to pay for both the provision of electricity and the other alternative energy sources. Other unfavorable effects of load-shedding include increased crime in townships and damage to household electrical appliances as a result of high-power voltage once electricity is restored,” Ms. Mulenga explained.
With the restoration of 150 Megawatts (MW) generator at Maamba Collieries Limited, the current available generation stands at 1,910 megawatts against the power demand of 2,380 MW. This results in power deficit reduction from 620 MW to 470MW. As CUTS, we are aware that Maamba Collieries is the country’s largest coal-fired modern thermal power plant and biggest Independent Power Producer (IPP) generating 300MW. When Maamba thermal plant was commissioned in 2016, the country was informed that Maamba coal plant planned to increase its production from the current 300 MW to 600 MW, which is still on cards. Ms. Mulenga said bringing on board additional 300MW will help diversify the power generation sources in the country, which is heavily dependent on hydro power, thereby insulating the country from energy shortage.
Ms. Mulenga said given ZESCO’s monopolistic position, as CUTS we encourage government to create an enabling environment for alternative sources of energy such as solar, thermal and wind energy. We welcome IPP such as Maamba Collieries in the energy sector which government is proposing to bring about fair competition, with an effective tariff adjustment model that support economic growth and development with consumer interests. Energy is a key sector behind economic development and Government has committed to develop and maintain energy infrastructure and services. Further, Ms. Mulenga welcomed the 2,000 MW deal government signed with the United Arab Emirates aimed at facilitating investment in renewable energy with the hope that it can be achievable. The availability of alternative electricity sources will guarantee that those in need of energy have access to it, but this should be made affordable, especially for the rural populace.
Currently, national electricity access rate stands at 34 per cent, representing 75 per cent access in urban areas and eight per cent in rural areas. We also implore Government to set in place a policy framework that will encourage private sector participation, promote competition and diversification in the energy sector to aid the attainment of the 2030 agenda of universal access to electricity.
It has been operating in Zambia for over 20 years under five thematic areas all with the ultimate goal of promoting consumer sovereignty. These thematic areas are; Economic Governance, Trade and Development, Consumer Welfare, Gender and Governance and Climate Change and Development.
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