PRETORIA – 17TH FEBRUARY, 2016 – ZAMBIA will reduce energy consumption equivalent to US$400 million, which is the cost of putting up a 200 megawatt power plant, when the country completely switches from the current incandescent to energy saving bulbs, Energy and Water Development Minister, Ms. Dora Siliya has told the Africa Energy Conference in Johannesburg South Africa.
And the conference has resolved that African countries should go into partnerships whenever undertaking power projects in order to adopt sustainable solutions and speed up implementation processes.
Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has pledged to help Zambia and Zimbabwe to mobilise resources to finance the joint power projects that the two countries were planning.
AU Commissioner, Dr. Elham Ibrahim said at the Africa Energy Indaba in Johannesburg yesterday that the AU was willing to approach its financiers on behalf of the two countries as projects, such as the proposed Batoka Hydro-power plant, being pursued by Zambia and Zimbabwe fell within the policy of integration which the continental body had adopted.
Both Ms. Siliya and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Energy and Power Development, Mr. Samuel Undenge welcomed Dr. Ibrahim’s offer and committed to submitting a formal request on the matter to the AU.
Ms. Siliya said the Zambian Government will take advantage of the African Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting scheduled for May this year in Lusaka to engage the AU on the offer.
On the use of alternative bulbs, Ms. Siliya told a session of the ‘Trilemma Ministerial Roundtable on the topic, ‘Africa’s Shifting Energy Trilemma’ that Government’s assessments indicated that the country predominantly used incandescent bulbs which totalled to 200 megawatts. This amount of energy can be generated by a power plant whose cost would not be less than US$400 million.
Ms. Siliya said Government has acted swiftly by introducing legislation that will progressively bar the use of incandescent bulbs in Zambia and in their place bring in the use of energy saving bulbs.
The trilemma roundtable discussion was meant to highlight the challenges facing policy makers as well as energy and finance industry leaders. It focused on the trade-offs among three dimensions: energy security, social equity and environmental impact mitigation.
And on the resolution to embrace integration, Dr. Ibrahim pointed out that projections indicated that Africa will need over 700 gig watts of energy by 2040. She wondered how this would be achieved if countries continued to implement power projects individually.
“As a continent, we have huge resources that can make us achieve great things. For example there is 42 percent hydro generation potential in the Congo alone, 90 per cent of coal reserves in Southern Africa and then we have huge oil and gas reserves in West Africa. We are ready as a continent to go regional as we embark on these projects,” she said.
And in the keynote address delivered by South Africa’s Deputy Director General for Energy Dr. Wolsey Barnard, standing in for Minister of Energy Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Dr. Barnard pointed out that US$225 billion investment was required to make energy accessible to over 620 million people who had no access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We have to move as a continent while carrying with us different options of energy sources if we are to change this scenario. The challenges that we have now cannot be solved as individual countries, we have to expedite these inter-linkages so that whenever we do engage in projects, we ensure that these are done with our neighbours,” Dr. Barnard said.
Ms. Siliya pointed out that Zambia was already on the right path as the country had embraced the concept of integration as evidenced through the US$5 billion Batoka hydro project which was being undertaken with Zimbabwe, while other projects in the north of the country were being considered in partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She said Zambia had even more realised the importance of integration following the challenges it was facing in the importation of power from South Africa through Zimbabwe were transmission lines had been collapsing due to increased demand over the years.
“From this we see that we cannot do things in isolation. It tells us that we need to collaborate with Zimbabwe so that we improve on the infrastructure if our needs are to be met.”
The Zimbabwean Minister, Mr. Undenge said Zimbabwe has always been a believer in integration as seen from the Kariba Dam project and the establishment of the Zambezi River Authority which was run by Zambia and Zimbabwe. He said the power deficit his country was facing had brought to the fore the need for cooperation among countries.
On the need for cost reflective energy tariffs, Dr. Reuel Khoza from Globeleq, an Independent Power Producer (IPP), said that Africa would continue suffering the challenges of inadequate power for as long as there was no political will to introduce policies that would attract private sector investment.
Dr. Khoza noted that both private and commercial users should realise that there was nothing for free and that there were huge costs to generating, transmitting, distribution and supply of power which was being borne by someone.
He said the continent had lagged behind in terms of having cost reflective tariffs in place to an extent that authorities had over-burdened the consumer through implementation of huge increments when they finally realised that there was need for an upward adjustment in the tariffs.
Dr. Ibrahim advised that people were bound to accept and support Government initiatives if they were openly informed and carried along the entire process.
Ms. Siliya pointed out that there was already political will demonstrated through the leaders of the SADC region who have resolved that member states should have migrated to cost reflective tariffs by 2019.
Both Ms. Siliya and Mr. Undenge said their respective Governments were now seriously looking at tariff adjustments as this was no longer a product that could be subsidised.
Ms. Siliya, who attracted a horde of international media attention after her presentation, assured potential investors that Zambia was serious about attracting the private sector and was ready to discuss various arrangements to make investment worthwhile for the parties involved.
She said, among other incentives, Government was ready to extend power purchase agreements of as much as 20 to 25 years which was enough time for investors to recoup their investment.
HIGH COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA
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