Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says he highly doubts the pending power importation deal between Zesco and Eskom will materialise because the South African power utility is equally facing power shortages.

And Milupi says only Mozambique currently has excess power that Zambia can import to ease the shortage.

Milupi said in an interview that connectivity of power lines between the two countries would also disadvantage the process.

Last week, Eskom said it had not signed any power importation deal with Zesco Limited because bilateral discussions were still ongoing.

“Let us make it very clear, buying power is not like buying potatoes or bags of maize. In the SADC region, there are certain areas which have deficit in power generation. There are certain areas which have surplus. Not so many countries that are generating thousands of mega watts are ready to ship on the market, that is point number one. Point number two; there has got to be a means of connection; it is not like you send vehicles to go and get power and come and put to your system. No! There has to be a connection,” Milupi said.

“In the SADC region, there are countries that are connected, Mozambique is connected, Zimbabwe is connected where the lines are across Kariba, and from Zimbabwe into South Africa, they are connected; there is some element of connection into Botswana. There is no connection into East Africa, there is no connection into Tanzania, high voltage connection. So the unlimited option that requires you to get the power as far as I am aware, the only country that has the surplus generation capacity in the region at the moment is Mozambique because of the Cahora Bassa dam.”

He said it was therefore surprising that Zambia wanted to import power from South Africa that was also in need of sufficient electricity supply.

“We were surprise when they said they are going to get power from Eskom in South Africa, because I am aware that Eskom is also desperately in short of power, they are also load shedding. We don’t know what deal they are working on. In addition, there are private interests that are established in generation capacity off shore. In other words, there are broad ships and those ships have generators and those can be linked to the main land Africa through Mozambique,” Milupi added.

“If they talked about Mozambique, I would say ‘yes, it something that is being done’. If they talked about those ships on the Mozambique ports, I would say ‘yes, there is something that is being done’. What is required in Zambia now is for the government to come up with encouraging policies that will encourage us to get into generating power form alternative sources.”

He said government should concentrate on countries that are connected to Zambia and have excess power generation.

“Namibia will not sell you power; they haven’t got it, Zimbabwe will not sell you power they haven’t got it; Botswana will not sell you power. I am talking about countries that are already connected that have capacity to deliver because they are already connected to transmission lines. Tanzania, even if they have excess power, they won’t sell you because they are not connected,” Milupi said.

“Trading power is not like trading in other goods, it’s much more special. You have to know who has excess. So even if you advertise, most countries… Madagascar will not sell you power because there is no connection between Madagascar and Zambia, although it is in the SADC region. So you have to go to the countries that are connected to you and they have the capacity to sell you power. At the moment there is just Mozambique that can sell you power; I don’t think South Africa can sell you power.”

He further pointed out that Zesco is financially stressed, hence the difficulties in securing a power import deal.

“The are difficulties in Zesco accessing any power from the people that are being mentioned, whether its Eskom or Mozambique, the people who are generating in Mozambique. This problem is much more serious than people are made to believe. Zesco may not have capacity to import power from anywhere because they do not have the money, they do not have the cash,” Milupi said.
“So even if they say they are importing power from Eskom, a few days later, Eskom tells us that no such deal has been signed, it is indicative of the problems that are in this area. I don’t know whether it is just a public relations exercise on the part of Zesco, maybe to assure people that something is being done,” Milupi said.

He called on Zambians to ensure that transparency is upheld in the power importation process.

“And what is important for those who seek transparency is to make sure that the price we get is the price that is prevailing. I know that a couple of years ago when Zesco was getting power from those ships in Mozambique, the Price was much higher and there was suspicion of corruption that extra price was going to people’s private pockets. Zambians must concern themselves and make sure that the delivery price of the power here is within normal limits; that is what we should concentrate on,” said Milupi.