Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says allowing private sector participation in energy production and distribution will force Zesco to operate more professionally.

Government, in the last sitting of Parliament, introduced Electricity and the Energy Regulation Bills in its quest to open up the energy sector to private participation.

The Bills have since passed the third reading and await assenting by the President for them to be passed into law.

Commenting on the development, Milupi observed that opening up the sector for private sector participation would compel Zesco to be run more professionally, but advised government to ensure a level playing field.

“Opening up the energy sector for private sector participation is a good thing because the private sector is more efficient and it creates competition, but that has to be accompanied by non-protection of Zesco. You can’t bring private sector (participation) and then they invest in a lot of money and then you still protect certain market segments to the parastatals. It must be free, it must be open and that will also force Zesco to be run more professionally instead of employing cadres and so on. You saw that we do have a private sector company, the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and people are saying it’s making more profit,” said Milupi in an interview.

The Electricity Bill is meant to regulate the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity so as to enhance the security and reliability of the supply of electricity; provide for the sale and purchase of electricity within and outside the Republic; facilitate the achievement of the efficient, effective, sustainable development and operation of electricity infrastructure; provide the roles and responsibilities of various participants in the electricity sector; facilitate adequate levels of investment in the electricity sector; provide for a multi-year tariff framework; promote transparency in the identification and allocation of risks, costs and revenues within and between participants in the electricity sector; ensure the protection and safety of consumers of electricity and the public; repeal and replace the Electricity Act, 1995; and provide for matters connected with, or incidental to, the foregoing.

Meanwhile, the Energy Regulation Bill is meant to provide for the licensing of enterprises in the energy sector; continue the existence of the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) and re-define its functions; re-constitute and revise the functions of the Board; repeal and replace the Energy Regulation Act, 1995; and provide for matters connected with, or incidental to, the foregoing.