President Edgar Lungu says tough decisions will be made despite the upcoming 2021 elections because time has come to “bite the bullet”.
And President Lungu says hydro power is treacherous.
Speaking to United States’ Voice of America on Zambia’s energy crisis recently, President Lungu said not many people were willing to make the sort of tough choices he was prepared to make for the sake of the country’s prosperity.
“Over the years, the Zambian economy has been growing, industries have been growing, the population has been growing and the demand for electricity has exceeded the expectation of the power utility company. So when you have this huge demand coupled with the negative effects of climate change, power plummets from say 100 per cent production to maybe 20 per cent, how do you meet the demand? So I think the solution lies in implementing whatever you’ve agreed upon. No matter how unpalatable, you have to bite the bullet. Sometimes these decisions come at a time when you have an election coming, like in Zambia, in less two years we are going to have an election but we have to bite the bullet and you have to explain to the people that we are going to take this measure, not because we enjoy your suffering but we are taking these measures because we want to keep you alive. We want to keep the wheels of the economy turning and we want to go beyond 2021 with hope that the country is getting better,” said President Lungu.
“But who can make those decisions? Very few people, I do make those decisions and I am proud that we normally want to engage the people, stakeholders and explain to them why certain measures are taken. And I think that’s where we are losing it because by the time you come to realise that you need to implement these measures, it will be swept off your feet and you find that you are no longer in power or you are new man in office and you are turning around ‘excuse me I want to find my feet’ and so on. So we should be sincere in our decision making and implementation.”
He said there was need to invest in alternative sources of energy because hydro power was treacherous.
He explained that measures, such as power tariff increments amidst the onset of the country’s power deficit, may have to be made to ensure the country’s economy was kept afloat.
“I think all these meetings that we attend, be it in the UN (United Nations), the African Union or in the region under SADC or ECOWAS or wherever, the panacea to our problem does not lie in interrogating these problems by way of having meetings. But it lies in implementing the resolutions that you have come across and I think this is the biggest challenge that we have because when we talked to each other, it was very clear that if we want to industrialize, I think you need energy. What form of energy do you need? We have realised that hydro energy is treacherous, if you allow me to use that word, because one minute you have lots of water, the next minute you have no water and your production of power goes down like in Zambia. So you need to have a good mix of the various forms of energy. But how many of us even knew way back that we need a lot of energy to industralise?” asked President Lungu.
“I am just glad this is a wake up call and going into the future obviously, we have said yes we need all forms of energy but that’s why I capped it by saying we need to have a good mix of energy. But only the private sector can invest with that magnitude that we expect to be able to have enough to develop. However, the private sector will not invest if the tariffs for example that you are charging are not cost reflective and profitable for them.”