Energy Minister David Mabumba says the majority of investors in the energy sector are foreigners, a situation he says is disadvantaging Zambians.
Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s Night Live Programme, Mabumba said the energy sector had the potential to grow the economy if participation of local investors was allowed.
“If you look at the energy sector, the energy sector is an intensity capital sector, but the question is why should we allow foreigners to come and woo maybe even come to borrow from our local banks and tomorrow they become world billionaires?” he asked.
“We don’t want Zambians to be just Directors in these companies, they need to own a stake. For example, the Batoka gorge power station which we are yet to begin, if you own 1%, you automatically become a billionaire and that money is going to be retained, it means that you will also be able to create jobs, you will also be able to invest that money.”
He expressed concern that the current energy legislation had lacunars which needs to be reviewed in order to allow local participation.
“Part of our priority in the Ministry is that we need to review our legislation, because our legislation if you look at it has been a little bit very weak. It has lacunars that do not allow our locals to participate. Either you look at it from the petroleum point of view or whether you look at it from the energy point of view,” Mabumba said.
“So we have three legislation’s which is the petroleum management bill which is yet to be submitted to the Cabinet and Parliament. The electricity bill as well as the energy regulation board bill. These three bills are meant to have provisions that are going to allow Zambians to participate in terms of being investors in the energy sector.”
Meanwhile, Mabumba wondered why manufacturers were complaining against the hiked Zesco tariffs when they were paying the lowest tariffs.
“The manufactures are paying the lowest tariffs, they shouldn’t come to the TV’s and newspapers and say government has increased, yes we have increased by 75% but we took into consideration two things, they are given a rate even when in September we increase by 75% the manufactures will be buying at 4 cents per kilowatt hour,” said Mabumba.