Economist Dr Lubinda Haabazoka says electricity tariffs are very high in Zambia because energy generation methods are too expensive.

In a presentation at the Rosatom-Zambia public awareness workshop at Inter Continental Hotel yesterday, Dr Haabazoka said there was need for the country to diversify its energy generation if the country’s economy was to grow.

Dr Haabazoka said nuclear energy was one of the solutions to Zambia’s energy deficit.

“More than 50 per cent of Zambians use firewood to cook followed by charcoal and this charcoal even us who have formal jobs and have money to pay for electricity have this charcoal in our homes because we need it to cook beans, we can’t cook beans on the stove because the tariffs are very high and why are they high? Because the methods we are using to generate electricity is very expensive. We have been told that it is four cents per something…you know I am not an expert, but maybe four cents per kilo watt. When we were importing it was 20 cents, we were importing at 20 cents when we had load shedding. So you can see how cheap that can be and I think we did that for about 10 years and there was no load shedding because Russia is a highly industrious country, not even a single day was there load shedding,” Dr Habazoka

“So you can see that we really need to find a solution to that and one of the solutions is nuclear energy because it has a number of benefits, we have a number of economic benefits, we have environmental health effects, we have social effects like increased employment because there will be creation of jobs, that is direct jobs, indirect jobs that are going to be induced. And then other benefits are that the overall economic effects are enhanced productivity, improved competitiveness, improved terms of trade and currency appreciation. That’s basically what an importing country like Zambia should wish for, the strong currency.”

And Dr Habazoka said said introducing nuclear energy in Zambia would turn around the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had been stagnant for about three years now.

“Zambia’s economy has significantly grown over the years. In 2002 our GDP was just around a billion dollars and today it is around 27 billion dollars. In 2010 our GDP was 20 billion US dollars, then in 2014 it was $26 billion dollars. So you can see that from 14 the economy became a bit stagnant and this is the picture up until 2016/2017. Our economic growth has been a bit stagnant and I think electricity is one of those problems that we can blame on the slow growth of the country’s economy because we had load shedding which had devastating effects on production and from our GDP you can tell why we need other sources of energy,” said Dr Habazoka.

“When you look at exports and I am talking about diversification of our industry here, you will find that over 80 per cent of our foreign exchange in flows comes from copper and cobalt, just from these two pieces. So we really need to find industries, we need enhance the competitiveness of our industry and diversify. Those figures (of the GDP) should have been 10 per cent from copper and then other sectors should have been dominant because you know copper and cobalt very soon with the coming in of FDI especially from Asia we are going to see that in the next five years we are not even going to have any copper or cobalt to talk about.”