The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) has warned that the anticipated electricity tariff hike will increase poverty levels in the country.

CSPR programmes manager Juliet Ilunga said most businesses that depend on electricity would be negatively affected by the looming power tariff hike, which would contribute to increasing poverty levels in the country.

Already, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR)’s Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for the month of August hit K6,200 for a family of five in Lusaka.

“That one is quite obvious because a lot of things are going to be affected. You know, when we are talking about poverty levels, we are talking about people who are most vulnerable and that is our concern as CSPR. When we look at those who are most vulnerable, but trying to get out of poverty, for instance, we have people who are totally depending on chicken rearing and in chicken rearing, they use electricity,” Ilunga said.

“So, the fact that electricity tariffs are going to be increased, it means that they are not going to be able to afford, meaning that poverty levels will increase. Those who were doing well because they had something to do like chicken rearing, they will not be able to afford.”

She added that the high cost of commodities, exacerbated by the power tariff increment, equally had the potential to increase crime levels.

“But generally, we also know that when electricity tariffs are increased, generally, the costs of commodities will go higher. So it means most people, the vulnerable, will not be able to afford basic needs. Generally, the cost of living will go higher,” Ilunga said.

“But we also look at the issues of crime; when the cost of commodities go up, crime levels resonate. It means those who were able to do something…you know, we have these young people who are involved in welding, they are making these various products through welding. When they can no longer afford, they begin to resort to vices like crime and when there is a lot of crime, it just keeps investors away. So there are a lot of negative effects.”

She said the electricity tariff increase would also have a negative effect on the education sector.

“Also, when we talk about electricity tariffs being increased, the poor little children, the boys and girls who are trying to come out of poverty by improving their education standards going to school; it means reduced hours of study because they will not be able to have enough electricity to study in the night and that will definitely affect their education levels,” said Ilunga.