President Edgar Lungu has called on stakeholders from the economic sectors to collaborate with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and help the government investment portfolio in stirring transformation, diversification and jobs creation for citizens.

And President Lungu has observed that limited access to electricity has contributed to reduced job creation in the country.

Speaking when he commissioned a solar photo voltaic plant for Bangweulu Power Company Limited at Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone Monday, President Lungu said government alone cannot create sustainable jobs.

The Head of State also implored Zesco to co-exist with the private sector in developing the energy sector saying that lack of electricity was hindering the creation of jobs in the country.

“Lack of electricity in some parts of the country has hindered the creation of jobs and wealth. This must be addressed. Thus, Zesco has to co-exist with the private sector in developing our energy sector. The private sector has shown great appetite to invest in power generation such as in coal, solar, wind or hydro,” President Lungu said.

“In 2015, the country experienced a severe energy deficit and crisis on account of low water levels resulting in inadequate power generation. The crisis was compounded by the fact that we were overly dependent on hydro-electric power. This prompted me to direct the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to immediately deploy up to 600 mega watts-grid connected solar photo voltaic (“PV”) power, as a measure to diversify our energy sources, as well as create an energy mix. In the same vein, I also commend the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group for the technical and financial support, given to the IDC and this project in particular.”

He urged stakeholders in different economic sectors to collaborate with IDC and help in transforming the economy as well as in creating jobs.

“I urge the World Bank Group to continue supporting such projects and many others aimed at job creation in our country. Your support to the scaling solar programme was instrumental in attracting some of the largest renewable energy companies to Zambia. Your partnership with the IDC instilled confidence in investors to bid for solar projects. It also attracted other financiers in the Zambian renewable energy space. Other sectors should equally collaborate in order to stir transformation, economic diversification and consequently, create jobs for our citizens. This project represents what coordinated efforts can achieve. The collaboration and commitment shown by the key government institutions involved in this effort should be a model of how we facilitate private sector growth. Government alone cannot create sustainable jobs but, this calls for collaboration with various stakeholders. Therefore, private sector investment in such projects is vital,” President Lungu further said.

He said Zesco should move away from the monopoly way of doing things and start collaborating with the private sector.

“Zesco limited plays a strategic national role in facilitating this significant investment. The 25 years life-span of this project is invariably tied to Zesco’s future. The project should therefore represent the working relationship that we all want to see between Zesco and investors in the energy sector. Going forward, Zesco should continue to interrogate its way of doing things. For a long time the electricity company held on to a time when it was the only player in the energy sector, expecting to do all the generation projects. However, the electricity company should be ready for other investors to venture into energy generation. The high demand for energy in Zambia and similarly, in the region where it is even higher as some neighbouring countries are currently facing power deficits, must be leveraged, by attracting more players in Zambia’s energy sector,” President Lungu said.

President Lungu said Zesco and other players have demonstrated that there is capacity to set up power plants to supply it with electricity at low tariffs.

“Through this project that will roll out soon, Zesco and other players have demonstrated that there is capacity to set up power plants to supply Zesco with power at low tariffs. Zesco should therefore, position itself to be the principal facilitator of private sector investment in energy generation. The company must focus on addressing access to power in the country which unfortunately remains unacceptably low. This brings me to an issue which is of concern I am sure not only to me but the entire nation. One wonders why power should pass through a district while the people in that district are denied the same electricity,” said President Lungu.

And President Lungu urged Zesco to focus on expanding the national grid and implementing inter-connectors with all the neighbouring countries to create power export opportunities.