Zambia can access cheap electricity from SA than putting up new generation plants – Lungu

Zambia can access cheap electricity from SA than putting up new generation plants – Lungu.

By Mwape Mbwelela

I DON’T see why Zambia should begin setting up new power stations if there is surplus energy in South Africa, which can be made available cheaply, says President Edgar Lungu.

President Lungu, who toured the Kusile power station project in Nkangala district of Mpumalanga Province in South Africa while on a three-day state visit to that country, said the government would consider possibilities of importing electricity from South Africa whose power surplus is around 2,000 mega watts.

Minister of Energy David Mabumba, Minister for Presidential Affairs Freedom Sikazwe and Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba, among others, accompanied President Lungu.

The coal-fired Kusile power station has six units with production capacity of 800 mega watts, meaning total capacity of the plant is 4,800 mega watts.

“Everyone wants to set up a power station in Zambia and Tanzania and Mozambique but at the end of the day, we are talking of regional integration. [So] I don’t see why Zambia should begin setting up new power stations if there is surplus energy in South Africa which can be made available cheaply,” President Lungu said.

He said Zambia needed to re-evaluate its plan to construct new power generation plants because sourcing power from South Africa would be a cheaper option.

“My gut feeling now is that we sit down as Zambia and assess whether we need to have so many power plants in Zambia when there is excess energy in the region…Some resources can be excess to the needs of a country like South Africa but they could do for Zimbabwe, they could do for Zambia if we sit down together and see how much they can guarantee that they will produce cheaply at a reasonable price and make available to us,” President Lungu said. “That way, the countries in the region can build their economies faster than they have done in the past.”

He said his government had learnt a lot from the visit to Kusile power station project which is being constructed by South Africa’s electricity company, Eskom.

“My government will send a team of technocrats from ZESCO and Ministry of Energy to meet with Eskom and consider what can be done,” said President Lungu.

And Eskom Group executive Abram Masango said the power utility was currently supplying over 500 mega watts of power to Zambia, in addition to Zimbabwe and Botswana.

“Eskom is however facing limitations in supplying more power because of having limited transmission lines,” said Masango.

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