We can’t give details of Eskom power import deal until negotiations are done – Govt

Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Trevor Kaunda says there are no inconsistencies in government’s pending power import deal with South Africa’s Eskom, adding that the nation will be updated once ongoing negotiations are done.

On Monday, Eskom spokesperson Dakitso Mothae disclosed that the utility had not yet signed any deal to import 300MW of power with the Zambian government or Zesco, adding that Eskom would only deliver the much-needed electricity once all conditions were met.

This runs contrary to the announcement earlier made by both Zesco and the Ministry of Energy that the power utility would start importing 300MW from Eskom at a cost of around US $20.5 million per month starting October 1.

In an interview with News Diggers! Tuesday, Kaunda said he could not disclose the nature of the negotiations, but said the nation would be updated once the discussions were done.

“There are no inconsistencies. The discussions are ongoing and once they are concluded, the nation will be updated on the way forward,” Kaunda said.

Asked what caused the delay for the power deal to be signed, Kaunda said he could not disclose the nature of the discussions.

“Those discussions are still underway, we cannot delve into disclosing the nature of the discussions, but suffice to say that discussions are going on,” he responded.

And asked to explain the reason why government insisted on importing power from South Africa when it would not reduce the 8-12 load shedding hours per day, he said the matter would be taken into consideration once the discussions were done.

“I am sure at an appropriate time in terms of after those discussions are concluded, those matters would be taken into consideration,” Kaunda said.

When pressed further whether there was money readily available to pay for the power imports given Zambia’s stressed Treasury, Kaunda said all that would be clarified once discussions were concluded.

And when asked why Zesco did not advertise the emergency power import deal with Eskom, Kaunda said Zesco would be the best party to respond.

“I would suppose Zesco would be the best to respond to that,” said Kaunda.

But when reached for a clear explanation on the elusive power imports, Zesco national spokesperson Henry Kapata referred the query back to the Ministry of Energy.

However, Zesco director for commercial and customer services Chiti Mataka attributed the delayed imports from Eskom to legal challenges.

Speaking to journalists in Lusaka during the tour of customer centres in Lusaka, Mataka disclosed that one of the requirements for importing power involved the need to conduct public hearings for a period of 30 days before commencing the importation, according to comments monitored on Radio Pheonix.

Mataka said Zesco had engaged the Ministry of Justice in an effort to find a way of expediting the process in light of the continued dwindling water levels in the Kariba Dam.

Meanwhile, Mataka revealed that Zesco had come up with a task force that would ensure the load management schedule was followed to avoid further unpredictability of load-shedding.

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Taimoneka Number
Taimoneka Number

Power supply certainty is very important to avoid poor people who are performing well and providing for their extended families from slipping into poverty. Right now, all SMEs dependent on Zesco power have gone deep into poverty. It is government’s responsibility to proactively foresee/project power deficits and take remedial measures to mitigate power deficits in order to avoid poor people operating power dependent SMEs from getting down into poverty like the situation is now. If I was Chairperson or CEO of Zesco, in March 2019, I would have advised government to look for alternative sources of power supply and especially… Read more »

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