The energy sector is in safe pair of hands going by increased Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by the new dawn government which has a component of rolling out electricity connectivity to rural areas, reports *Francis Lungu.*
An internationally renowned energy expert, Johnstone Chikwanda has observed that the upsurge in the annual CDF allocation from the distant K1.6million by the previous government to now unprecedented K28.3million per constituency, will add impetus in increasing access to electricity
Dr. Chikwanda shares that the United Party for National Development (UPND) has come through to increase access to electricity by having a component of resources in the CDF towards rural electrification.
“Government has risen to the occasion to increase access to electricity. The K28.3million CDF has a component dedicated to rural electrification,” Dr Chikwanda said when he featured on Radio Christian Voice current affairs programme dubbed “Chat Back”.
The increase in CDF by the new dawn government amounts to around K4.5billion compared to K250million meant for all the 156 constituencies during the Patriotic Front (PF) regime.
This huge leap in the CDF allocation, according Dr. Chikwanda, has the potential to even attract investment in the energy sector.
He says Government’s policies that have recently seen some upward tariff adjustment in the energy sector are meant to make the energy sector become cost reflective.
“For a long time it has been noted, even when you read the 6th, 7th and even the 8th National Development Plans, there are some factors that have not made electricity [investment] attractive. We need to move into cost reflective tariffs in the next five years,” he said.
On the monthly price review of petroleum products, Dr. Chikwanda says it is clear that Government has aligned with the international practice obtaining even in the neighbouring countries.
He says Zambia was the only country in the region that had not been reviewing petroleum prices monthly but that it had remained with the review approach of after 60 days.
“…but after 60 days, Indeni [Petroleum Refinery] could not meet the demand, it could only do 40 to 60 percent, so a lot of fuel could come by road…so if we go for a longer period of price review, both consumers and suppliers could be disadvantaged with the gains that could happen [in between]on the international market,” he said.
According to Dr. Chikwanda, the new dawn government is equal to the task through it’s policies in making the energy sector have cost reflective tariffs for investment attraction.