KRI Zambia, a private sector institution that promotes research innovation methods for farmers and SME has called on President Edgar Lungu to halt the intended importation of power by Zesco from South African.

Chief executive officer, Dr Frank Kayula said the emergency power import would be too costly compared to local and cheap initiatives that government could embark on like solar energy.

“We have the sunshine why don’t we just ensure that we open up borders for sun generated energy which is very, very free. The Lord has already provided us with the sun, why should we go for decisions that are expensive for the Zambian people? Maybe what President [Edgar Lungu] should know is that some people are planing his downfall by making everything expensive when we can do all those things cheaply in this country. Let him intervene, this is his opportunity to intervene so that we go for those low cost solutions. They are there,” Dr Kayula said.

“I know we are used to load shedding but one to three months of load shedding in the manner we have undergone is too much. There are many companies that can come and invest here except that we have a problem in this country. Those who are in the first line to ensure that these things are done, a number of them are asking for kickbacks. ‘If something is costing so many millions why don’t I go away with a million?’ That altitude must end. That is why am saying that the President must intervene so that these companies are able to set up huge solar plants here.”

He said electricity was not a luxury and as such, the current load shedding hours were too much.

“If government is saying that they are going to import and the importation is not going to impact on the reduction of load shedding then we will query and wonder why the importation. Then we can remain as we are! We are almost getting used to the situation that we are going through. Except that you know load shedding is not good at all. Electricity may not be considered as a luxury at all it is a necessity, it is a need, because it is used not just by farmers but also by the business men,” he added.

“And you know that more load shedding hours mean more generators for businesses, and gensets for electricity is very expensive and that expense, I think is going to be passed on to the consumers; meaning the consumers in Zambia are going to be hit hard in several angles. This is where we need proper advice to the President to intervene as much as possible in some of these wrong decisions.”

Dr Kayula said it was disappointing that despite having 30 per cent of fresh water in the region, Zambia was considering importing power from its neighbours.

“In 2015 we where in the same situation as South Africa in terms of power deficits. South Africa found a solution which we haven’t found up to now. Why should it be? Are we the only ones who will just be depending on other people for solutions. We have solutions within this country, we are the ones who have 30 per cent of fresh water in the region yet we are the ones importing from others, it doesn’t make sense at all,” said Dr Kayula.

“We also think that now is the right time for unbundling of Zesco. The time is ripe. They don’t know what they are doing anymore because they are sole proprietor of the generation, supply and distribution of electricity so the inefficiency of Zesco are being transferred to the consumers, it’s bad! In terms of agriculture you are aware that among life scale farmers there is a lot of use of electricity. How will they manage to produce the food we need in the country if electricity is high? If the costs are high it will be very difficult. We need solutions that are locally breed with interested people who will ensure that we generate electricity at low costs within the country, it’s possibles.”