ENERGY Minister Mathew Nkhuwa is expected to announce an official position on Statutory Instrument No. 57 of 2020, which declared the Copperbelt Energy Corporation’s (CEC) infrastructure as common carrier by the end of this year, says Ministry Permanent Secretary Trevor Kaunda.
Commenting on the ongoing review of the SI, which Nkhuwa promulgated in May, 2020, Kaunda announced that Nkhuwa would be expected to issue a formal position of the outcome of the findings by the end of next month.
“It’s detailed work that has been done and we have to get buy-in from the policymakers, internally; once that is done, they review the report and give direction then we move to the next stage. There’s a process, I can’t say it’s come to an end; there has to be presentation of the findings to the Minister and the Minister gives direction based on the findings so it’s at that stage where the Minister is expected to review and guide on the comments of the technocrats,” Kaunda said in an interview.
“Clearly, the current SI is not sufficient because it only addresses one of the players on the market; it doesn’t address the other players in the market.”
Asked if the current impasse between CEC and Zesco would be resolved following review of the SI, he said Nkhuwa would clarify more on it in due course.
“…I am not positioned to comment further beyond the fact that the Minister will consider the report and give direction. I’m sure during the course of this year, he’ll be able to come back; we’ve only about six weeks to go before the end of this year, there’s an opportunity for the Minister to give the public the government position. The key message is: by the end of the year, government will give direction on the issue of designation of infrastructure as common carrier,” said Kaunda.
The Ministry embarked on a thorough review on all of Zesco Limited’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 distribution lines on the Copperbelt.
Zesco has massive infrastructure totalling over 12,000Km, which needed time to review.
On May 29, Nkhuwa promulgated SI 57 declaring CEC infrastructure as common carrier.
But government has in the period following the issuance of SI 57 come under intense criticism and pressure from an array of interested parties and the public, who viewed 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.
The Kitwe-based power utility has consistently maintained that the SI remains an infringement on property rights and is problematic to CEC as a business.