THE Ministry of Energy says it is still reviewing all of Zesco Limited’s transmission infrastructure, which could be considered common carrier in line with the Statutory Instrument (SI) Number 57 of 2020.
And the Ministry says it remains in full support of discussions between Zesco and the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) resuming to enable the two commercial entities to reach an amicable outcome following the lapsed Bulk Supply Agreement (BSA).
Providing an update on the SI since its promulgation into law, Ministry of Energy acting Permanent Secretary, Sandra Ndhlovu, stated that the Ministry was still reviewing all of Zesco’s transmission infrastructure, which could be considered common carrier, to enable other power utilities have access to Zesco’s infrastructure in the same way Zesco currently had access to CEC’s transmission and distribution lines on the Copperbelt.
On May 29, Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa promulgated SI 57 declaring CEC infrastructure as common carrier.
Government has in the period following the issuance of SI 57 come under much criticism and pressure from an array of interested parties and the public, who view SI 57 as having the intent of expropriating private investment in an attempt to allow the two entities under its control, Zesco and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), continue to trade on terms that would not be economical to a private commercial entity such as CEC.
Subsequently, in early June, Zesco agreed to be paid a lower electricity tariff for the continued supply of power to KCM, which is at a reduced rate than what was contained in the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) CEC had with the mine, according to court filings.
But Ndhlovu announced that the Ministry was still reviewing Zesco’s infrastructure, a process expected to be concluded soon.
“The review process is still ongoing and should be concluded soon. Zesco has massive infrastructure totalling over 12,000km and needs time to review. The Ministry is currently reviewing all transmission infrastructure,” Ndhlovu stated in response to a press query.
She also stated that the Ministry remained in full support of talks between Zesco and CEC resuming to enable the two commercial entities reach an amicable outcome following their lapsed BSA, which expired on March 31, 2020.
“The Ministry in implementing its mandate to develop and manage the energy sector, encourages constructive dialogue among parties so as to reach a meaningful decision. Further, the Ministry is in full support of discussions resuming and thus does not need to authorise discussions between the two commercial entities,” stated Ndhlovu, who also allayed concerns relating to CEC’s massively fallen share price on the Lusaka Securities Exchange (LuSE), which had deteriorated significantly since the start of the second quarter of this year.
CEC’s share price fell to K0.76 per share by the end of trading on September 1, 2020, from K1.21 on June 12 amid continued anxieties over the developments surrounding the utility.
The SI is currently being disputed and has ignited court proceedings, as CEC and Zesco seek to resume talks for the possibility of new power supply arrangements.