THE Ministry of Energy says it is working on how best it can declare all electricity infrastructure in Zambia as common carrier after concerns were raised over the issuance of Statutory Instrument No. 57 which declared Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) Plc infrastructure as such.
Last month, CEC chief financial officer Mutale Mukuka expressed concern over the SI and further questioned why Zesco kept blocking the Kitwe-based power utility from using Zesco’s infrastructure if it was also declared common carrier as guided by Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa.
“We are not aware of the fact that Zesco’s infrastructure is common carrier under the law, but are happy to be guided. In case you are familiar with such a law, please share with me the relevant law declaring Zesco’s transmission and distribution assets common carrier. We have SI 57 of 2020, which declared CEC transmission and distribution assets common carrier, so we may want to see something similar. Probably, Zesco would want you to believe so but I am sure even them would have challenges showing us the law declaring them common carrier. From a practical point of view, for example, from mid-2019 to-date CEC’s bilateral power supplies from regional utilities continue to be blocked by Zesco and this is a matter which has been brought to the attention of the policymakers (including the Energy Minister), but no solution has been found, nor has any action been taken by the Minister on the Zesco assets. For your own information, this is despite CEC allowing Zesco’s bilateral power supplies to use its system well before the declaration of the CEC assets as common carrier. The matter of Zesco blocking passage of CEC power through its infrastructure to-date remains unresolved,” said Mukuka.
But in an interview, Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Trevor Kaunda announced that the Ministry was working on how Zesco and other electricity infrastructure could be declared as common carrier using the Electricity Act.
“The law, as it is, the Electricity Act provides for the Minister to designate any infrastructure of a company as common carrier so that SI addresses the CEC infrastructure. But the Ministry is working on how to, if you like, make further steps to identify other infrastructure as common carrier, for example, the Zesco ones, using the same provisions of the law, is something that is being worked on to see how some of the other players’ infrastructure can be designated as common carrier. So, that’s something that the Ministry is working on. After that SI was issued, they’ve been concerns raised,” said Kaunda.
On May 29, 2020, Nkhuwa promulgated SI 57 declaring CEC infrastructure as common carrier.
He had, however, argued in a follow-up statement issued on June 23 that the recent regulatory and statutory changes arising from the SI made it clear that all transmission and distribution lines in the country were declared as common carrier to facilitate a move towards a competitive market.
But stakeholders swiftly challenged Nkhuwa to produce evidence declaring all transmission and distribution lines in the country as common carrier as the law demands, with the latter yet to show any such evidence.