Green Party president Peter Sinkamba has unbundling Zesco’s functions is not a solution to the ongoing countrywide electricity load-shedding, but in investing into smart environmental protection techniques.
Some stakeholders have called on the government to consider unbundling Zesco’s functions of power generation, transmission and distribution to improve the power utility’s efficiency.
But Sinkamba said the only way to end load-shedding is through more investments in environmental protection and management of forests.
“As Green party, we announced our policy to unbundle Zesco during the campaigns for 2015 and 2016 elections. However, that is not the solution to the current load-shedding problem. The current problem lies in a number of far reaching factors than mere unbundling of Zesco. Firstly, we have rainfall which is dwindling by the day because of climate change and we…are failing the environment. We are not investing much in protecting the environment, such that most of the watershed areas…are not being protected. We have allowed rampant cutting of trees in all watershed areas of the Kafue Upper Basin and the Zambezi upper basin such that now the rain cycle is being curtailed. Trees play a key role on the rain cycle, but we are failing to protect those trees. So they are becoming fewer and fewer by the year, therefore, affecting the rainfall pattern,” Sinkamba observed.
“All this is happening because in terms of policy, government has not invested much in the forestry department to ensure that the forest rangers are there to protect the resources. Secondly, government is failing to allocate adequate funding towards management of these forests. Then number three, government is so reckless by way of giving concessions to timber loggers to cut trees anywhere indiscriminately.
He also regretted that government was de-gazetting forest reserves, which were supposed to provide the necessary cover for the environment.
“The forest reserves are being de-gazetted in preference for what they call development, because in this country, building a house is called development, unfortunately. We have a warped thinking arrangement. When you go to various streams, the streams are now drying up because every space you see, you call it a plot. You want to go and build a house and cut down trees and you call that development but that is not development, you are cutting off the feeders for these rivers…So for us as Green party, we don’t think that by merely dismantling Zesco then you have a solution, it’s beyond that, you need a lot of planning and investment in environmental protection. That’s where the solution lies,” Sinkamba said.
Meanwhile, Sinkamba said the government has failed to capitalise on the demand side management in power distribution.
“We have failed to think outside the box regarding the demand side and see how best we can even maximise or optimise the power that we are generating at the moment. For example now, we have at least each and every household having either a Genset or an Inventor and others having a solar panels. Each one of them is producing energy. But what are we doing? Instead of pumping that power into the grid, it’s just going to waste. The power which is being generated through generators around the country is massive, we could have even doubled what Zesco is producing and that way, we would have managed to maximise power,” he said.
Sikamba further called for investment into the expansion of the energy mix.
“We need to have a policy to expand on the energy mix because when you look at what is happening now, we have a lot of potential in terms of geothermal, wind energy, solar energy, biomass, and in terms of waste heat, especially when you are going to look at mining companies. There is a lot of heat, which is being wasted from the smelters where we could have converted that heat into electric energy. But we need policy direction and investment in that regard. If we can attend to all those issues, we should be able to be self-reliant in terms of electricity and we might even start to export energy abroad. But that is not dependent on Zesco’s unbundling,” said Sinkamba.