THE European Commission has granted Zambia €65 million to improve electricity transmission in the country.

In a statement issued by finance ministry media and public relations head Chilesha Kandeta today, the grant agreement was signed this afternoon.

“Zambia and European Commission have signed a EURO 65 million GRANT financing agreement for the Lusaka Transmission Distribution Rehabilitation Project. The agreement was signed this afternoon in Brussels, Belgium, between Finance Minister Felix Mutati and European Commissioner for International Development, Neven Minica,” Kandeta stated.

Kandeta stated that Mutati indicated that the funds would facilitate more than 63,000 new connections.

“And Mr. Mutati has thanked the European Commission for the EURO 65 million GRANT provided under the National Indicative Programme [2014-2020]. The funds will facilitate the connection of more than 63,000 new customers to clean, reliable and affordable energy services. The Minister his visit affirms Zambia’s commitment to a new and greater level of cooperation with the European Union,” Kandeta stated.

“’This agreement will not only facilitate reduction of system loses and improved load management, but also provide the requisite energy for the private sector to up their production and service levels,’ said Mr. Mutati. Mr. Mutati also assured the European Commission that Zambia was taking measures to improve absorption capacity and project implementation efficiency and effectiveness.”

And Kandeta stated that Minica said the European Commission would attend the Batoka Gorge Investor Conference to be hosted in Zambia.

“We are happy with the progress Zambia has made in project identification and preparation but would like to see a greater pace in absorption of 11th European Development Fund [EURO 484 million] resources. By end of 2017, Zambia has to absorb at least 80% of the funds instead of waiting until 2020. Going forward, the European Commission would like to institute de-risking, concessional facilities, and credit guarantee schemes for private sector investment in Africa,” Kandeta quoted Minica as having said.

“In this regard, we will be participating in the Batoka Gorge Investor Conference to be held in Zambia. We have EURO 4 billion under a facility called European Investment Fund, for providing the private sector with guaranteed concessional funds for investment in Africa.”

Kandeta also stated that the European Commission was committed to investing in renewable energy in Africa and was targeting production of five giga watts [5GW] across the continent to assist in improving the access to electricity and clean energy.