Energy Minister David Mabumba says government has dealt with all procedural issues regarding the importation of fuel from Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Mabumba also said he would in the first quarter of 2018 present to Parliament three legislative acts which would give ERB extra powers to regulate electricity tariffs for mining companies.
Mabumba, however, said he was unable to ascertain whether the US$20 million oil from Saudi Arabia would have an impact on the fuel pump price.
“We have a bilateral arrangement with our colleagues in Saudi Arabia work of US$20 million for the importation of fuel. And that bilateral arrangement begun in 2015 but because of the procedural nature of these bilaterals, it is not something that we can do in one month, sometimes it takes time. But in summary what I want to inform you and the Zambian people is that we have been able to deal with all the outstanding procedural issues. The only element which is remaining now is the letter of credit which has to be issued by the Ministry of Finance. In fact, yesterday we spent almost one hour with the Minister of Finance here and that is one of the issues that we were discussing with a view that our colleagues at the Ministry of Finance should be able to facilitate the issuance of the letter of credit. And once that had been done, all the technical issues to do with the importation of 20 million Saudi Arabian fuel will have been done. And all we have been wishing for is to go and flag-off the importation,” Mabumba said.
“It is important to know that the US$20 million is only going to be put in a pool of the petroleum products that the Republic of Zambia buys. So it might have an effect on the pump price am not too sure until when we conclude this and when our colleagues do the computation, that’s when probably as we go in early next year, we will be able to come and share with you what the impact of that 20 million dollars is going g to have on the petroleum sector of the country.”
And Mabumba said he would in the first quarter of 2018 present three legislative acts; the Electricity Act, the Energy Regulation Bill, and the Petroleum Management Bill to Parliament.
“We have got three important legislatures that I should be presenting to parliament next year. Number one is the Electricity Act which we are reviewing in order to open up the market…when the Electricity Act is presented and assented to, it means that we are going to have an open access regime such that if you want to invest in the power sector, you could invest in a power project, you can choose the customers who you want to sell that power to and we are going to have the transmission line that we have are going to be opened up, you can pay a working tag, whether you want to take your power to Congo, to Zimbabwe, to Malawi, you will be free once that act is assented to and approved,” he said.
Mabumba also explained that the Energy Regulation Bill would give additional powers to the ERB to regulate all electricity tariffs.
“The number two act that we have is the Energy Regulation Bill which we are reviewing and the most important thing in that bill is to try and give ERB additional powers. At the moment, the Energy Regulation Board only has powers to regulate tariffs for domestic customers, they don’t have the power to regulate tariffs for the mining companies. Now under the new act, ERB will have the power to regulate tariffs for all customer categories, it be domestic, it be mining, it be manufacturers. So we are giving them those powers to try and deal with the vacuum that has been in that act,” he said.
He said the Petroleum Management Bill would also give the ERB extra powers to regulate private sector participation in financing and importation of petroleum products.
“The number three legislation is the Petroleum Management Bill. As you are aware colleagues we begun a journey to allow the private sector to participate in the financing and procurement of petroleum products. So you cannot do that without an enabling legislation. So that piece of legislation would be able to also give ERB additional powers in the manner we allow the private sector to participate in the financing and importation of petroleum products,” said Mabumba.
Meanwhile, Mabumba said government was building capacity to venture into nuclear energy production.
“For nuclear energy what we are doing at the moment is just to lay a platform, you know nuclear all over the world is a very sensitive investment. So number one you need to prepare the mindset of people in your country and you also need to put up a legal framework with the country which has to be approved by the atomic agency and what we have been doing for us as a country is to build capacity. We have a number of students that we have sent to Russia for training into nuclear physics and all the programmes associated with nuclear energy. And we have signed the MoU with China and Russia in terms of corporation on these nuclear investments. For now what I can say colleagues is that yes, for now government has agreed going forward, that is a programme we need to pursue for good reasons, for power generation, not for any other reasons but we need to create a technical and legal framework within the country. We need to create capacity in our institutions, for example the radiation authority, we need to create capacity within that institution,” said Mabumba.