National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili says Zesco lacks visionary leadership that can plan how to maintain power supply despite climate change.

In a statement, Thursday, Kambwili outlined how his party intends to tackle erratic electricity supply, blackouts and load shedding in Zambia by using coal for power production.

“The population of Zambia has been growing fast, at independence the population was just around 3.5 million people, today the population is over 17 million people which means it has quadrupled. But we still largely rely on infrastructure that was meant for four million people. The population of this country is expected to reach 42 million by 2050, this means that the demand for electricity will more than double by 2050 due to the shear number of people and increased industry and if nothing is done now to develop new electricity plants, future generations of Zambians will suffer tremendously, they will blame us the current generation for failing to foresee what is fairly straightforward because the economy of Zambia won’t grow, investors will shun the country and the economy will collapse to condemn the nation to perpetual extreme poverty,” Kambwili stated.

“We rely too much on the heavenly rains to pour heavily year in year out. But we know from experience that every three years, we experience droughts due to climate change. So this reliance on rains means that we will always have load shedding. Then other thing is Zesco has grossly been mismanaged for several decades, governments have used Zesco as a cash cow to fund other less important activities, as a result Zesco has not been able to invest in new infrastructure or indeed to adequately maintain it’s existing infrastructure. Zesco lacks visionary leadership because the top positions are given to political supporters of the President instead of those who are qualified and can lead the company forward. The government lacks an energy plan, they have not taken time to analyse the statistics and cheaper alternatives that we have at our disposal.”

Meanwhile, Kambwili explained how NDC would make a significant shift to coal fueled power plants along side hydro electric power.

“Coal fuel power plants have several advantages because they are easy to set up, the technology is readily available, they can be built quickly, they are cheap to build, they are easy manage, they don’t require a lot of water, they produce lots of electricity and we have a lot of coal in Zambia at Maamba. Once these plants are built, they will last for over 100 years if well maintained. Today foreign nationals are mining our coal and taking it to their countries for electricity production. We will allow private energy companies to develop power plants and sell directly to consumers. Part of the problem we have is that Zesco is a monopoly, if they fail there are no consequences. So we will introduce competition in the sector,” Kambwili stated.

He stated that the national grid would be decentralized and different energy companies would be allowed to use it to transmit electricity to their customers.

“We will also provide great incentives such as tax breaks and favourable capital allowances for companies which invest in electricity generation and customers will be free to choose their energy provider based on cost. For example Dangote plant in Ndola has a coal fueled power plant which powers their factory, they sell the excess to Zesco. But under our plan, Dangote will be able to sell electricity to areas within the vicinity of their plant. We will also encourage large consumers of electricity such as the mines to develop power plants of their own to power their operations. This will ease the pressure off the national grid and reduce the need to load shed,” stated Kambwili.

“This is already done in many countries with significant mining operations. We will phase out the sale of inefficient electrical appliances and bulbs and replace them with certified energy efficient appliances to reduce on energy consumption. Geysers will be required to have a solar component so as to reduce on electricity consumption.We will establish an energy forecast team whose sole responsibility will be to monitor energy consumption, forecast energy needs, make annual recommendations to government and to make long term plans of what needs to be done to avert crises.”