Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa has insisted that electricity tariffs will have to be increased to attract investments in the sector as Zambia has “the lowest power tariff in the region”.
And Mines Minister Richard Musukwa says government is in the process of canceling all idle mining licenses that have been held by various entities to pave way for serious investors and participation of locals.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Dora Siliya says government will not waste time with an opposition that has nothing to offer.
The three ministers said this in separate interviews with ZNBC shortly after President Edgar Lungu’s address to parliament on Friday.
“The tariffs that we are charging for electricity in Zambia are very low and therefore, it is very difficult to attract investment in electricity sector. The people that are coming to invest are looking at long term because things are not going to be like this forever. The tariffs just have to go up because how can people produce power for ten cents per kilowatt hour and sell it for five cents per kilowatt hour? It means that company will not be viable at all. When you look at the region, we are the cheapest in terms of electricity. So we have to look at that and the Zambian people have to realise that if they need electricity, they have to pay for it,” Nkhuwa said.
He said his ministry would look at the possibility of fast-tracking some power generation project to ease the current electricity shortage.
“There is some challenge that the president has given to my ministry and one of the challenges is that we should not load shed the hospitals. And just straight from here (Parliament), I am going to the office and I am going to issue a memo to Zesco and IDC to make sure that this directive is carried forward, that is not load shedding hospitals and also the water treatment plants. We want to make sure that people have got water. But also, we can fast-track most of the projects that are in the pipeline. So we have to make sure that we visit these places like Lusiwasi, Kafue Gorge Lower, and the solar projects that are in the pipeline so that we fast-track them and make sure that they come on board. The position that my ministry is in is definitely a very tough situation,” said Nkhuwa.
And Musukwa said several people held licences for areas where gold has been discovered but were in the background instead of prospecting.
“We cannot be struggling with resources when we have huge capacity in terms of developing our gold exploitation. I agree that yes, the discovery in North Western Province, including other places like Eastern Province, has largely been by illegal miners. What is sad is that all these areas where we have discovered gold are licensed areas. [You find that] there is a license holder who has been sitting in the background and has not taken possession of the area and then illegal people find and discover the resource. That is why you have seen that government has moved in to ensure that all idle licenses that are held by various entities are canceled in order to pave way for serious investors and locals that are going to create value for these mineral resources. Our prime factor that His Excellency the President has guided is that the local people in which these resources reside must be fundamental beneficiaries both at exploration and also in terms of beneficiation,” Musukwa said.
He also assured miners on the Copperbelt that government was doing everything to regularise operations at Konkola Copper Mine (KCM).
“There is a lot of hope for our people on the Copperbelt. Konkola Copper Mine is a matter that we are working tirelessly to ensure that we regularise all the processes. As we speak, we are already in production at Konkola Copper Mine under the guidance of the liquidator. People need to be calm as we wait for the court processes to finish and government is very keen to ensure that that operation is sustained. I want to assure our contractors and suppliers at KCM and various mining houses that government will ensure that their interests are protected and that they participate in the value chain of the mining operation going forward,” said Musukwa.
Meanwhile, Siliya said Zambia does not have a credible opposition as their only agenda was to speak negatively about the PF and Zambia.
“We in government are not scared of the opposition. We are not scared of competition because competition is healthy. But we also do not want to waste our time with an opposition that has nothing to offer. As far as I am concerned, I do not think we have a credible opposition in this country because until we keep hearing what their plan is, all I hear is that their agenda is just to paint the PF and Zambia black,” said Siliya.