Center for Trade policy and Development executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says the importation of power from South Africa will not bear the intended fruits as the impact on productivity will be very insignificant.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba says government’s projections do not make sense because load shedding should reduce by about six hours after importation of energy.

On Monday, Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa said the 300 megawatts power imports from Eskom would start before the end of the week and was anticipated that load shedding would only be reduced by two hours.

But in an interview, Mwaipopo said it would have made more sense to clear debt owed to Maamba Collieries.

“It would have actually yielded much, one of the things that we also need to establish is the exact amount that the government owes Maamba Collieries a local supplier, so that we can get to understand how much of that has been dismantled, what is the difference. Probably it would have made a big difference by giving that to a local supplier they owe so that the local supplier gets into supply. It becomes more reliable, the bargaining powers or the bargaining opportunities are there compared to a foreign entity like Eskom. So with regards to the power importation from Eskom that is to commence, as the Center for Trade Policy and Development, we are of the considered view that this will not change the situation in terms of the hours that we are losing when it comes to productivity of companies, of individuals as well as firms that are just involved in production,” Mwaipopo said.

He said that there was need to look at alternative energy sources.

“The CTPD is also of the considered view that at this juncture, more priority needs to be done when looking at solutions from within and in terms of solutions from within, it’s basically the information that they are already sitting on that speaks to alternative energy sources and they need to work around the clock to ensure that these alternative sources are readily available, accessible and affordable, only then will be in a position to provide some cushion to a number of individuals but we also have to bear in mind that this is also happening at a time that the cost of living is on the rise especially for places like Lusaka,” said Mwaipopo.

“Apparently we are living in a setup where it’s actually very difficult for private sector players to even engage in productivity or production so that they can create the much needed disposable income. So with that in play, only a few people will have disposable income that they can even afford alternative energy sources. So there is need to do what we can within the country to provide some options that can help people to get through this until a time that we get back to normal.”

Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, Sinkamba said the math on how many hours load shedding would be reduced by was not adding up.

“The calculus on the importation of power from Eskom South Africa, where the Zambian Government is spending US$27million per month, starting this month, is not adding up. Here is why: Two months ago, ZESCO announced that it was increasing the hours for power rationing due to continued decrease of water levels in the country’s hydro power plants. The firm increased hours for power cut from 6 to 8 hours for all industrial and commercial customers. According to ZESCO notice, a continued decline in water levels in Kariba Dam resulted in the country experiencing a power deficit of about 700 megawatts from the initial 273 megawatts which was reported in June. Last week, ZESCO once again notified the public further reduction of power generation at main power stations, namely Kariba, Kafue George and Ithezi thezi. According to ZESCO, the state of affairs has significantly reduced with power deficit to 872 megawatts. Furthermore, Zesco announced longer load shedding periods of more than 15 hours per day,” Sinkamba recalled.

“ZESCO and Government are currently making arrangements to start importing electricity from ESKOM South Africa so as to cushion the power deficit. Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ngandu told journalists at State House on Thursday last week that Government had met the obligation of importing power from ESKOM. Government says it has since paid for one month for importation of power from ESKOM. The cost is pegged at US$27 million for 300 megawatts per month. Now, look at this calculus: In June, power deficit was 273 megawatts, and the load shedding hours were 4 hours. In September, power deficit increased to 700 megawatts, and loading shedding hours increased to more than 15 hours per day. When this deal takes off in two days’ time, the power deficit will be reduced from 872 megawatts to 572 megawatts. However, Government says the importation will reduce load shedding by only 2 hours! This mean load shedding will remain at more than 13 hours per day. The calculus is not adding up here. Check this out: If 273 = 4, 700 = 8, 872 = 15, 572 =?”

He stated that according to Zesco’s figures, importation of 300 megawatts of power was supposed to reduce load shedding to a maximum of six hours.

“Based on ZESCO’s figures published since June this year, as the worst case scenario, the importation of 300 megawatts must reduce load shedding to maximum of 6 hours. In other words, the deal should reduce load shedding from the current more than 15 hours to maximum 6 hour per day. So, going by ZESCO and Government own pronouncements, and statistics, something fishy is cooking here!” stated Sinkamba.