ENERGY Minister Mathew Nkhuwa has promised the people of Zambia that load shedding will soon come to an end because of the good rainfall pattern.

And Nkhuwa says the Kafue Gorge Lower would be operational towards the end of March.

When asked by Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Kasautu Michelo why the people of Zambia believe that load shedding would end, Nkuwa said he could not make promises which were not true.

“This is not a political statement, this is a real state of the issues. If the honorable member was really interested, I had offered on the floor of this House that whoever was interested to go to Kariba and see the water levels, I am prepared to go with them. If I stand here and promise the people of Zambia that they are going to have electricity and there is no water in the reservoirs, then where is the electricity going to come from? I am saying things the way they are,” Nkhuwa said.

“The issue is that the rainfall has been good this year and we look at the reservoirs getting more filled up so that we can be able to produce. If the reservoirs were not getting filled up and the expectations that we have from the meteorological department, we will not be standing here promising the people of Zambia. There is no point for a minister to start promising the people of Zambia that load shedding is going to end when it is not true.”

When asked by Kapiri Mposhi UPND member of parliament Stanley Kakubo as to whether there would be load shedding after this year’s elections, Nkhuwa denied.

“I can assure honorable member for Kapiri that definitely going forward after 2021, we will not have any more load shedding especially with the coming of the Kafue Gorge Lower,” he said

And when asked by Liuwa UPND member of parliament Situmbeko Musokotwane if Zesco would be up to date in paying the independent thermal power stations, Nkhuwa responded in the affirmative.

“The debt that is being owed is being transferred to the government and the government of the Republic of Zambia will honor that debt. The debt is a result of energy being bought for more and being sold for less. Therefore, the government is negotiating this difference to make sure that we get power at an affordable price. I must also say that this time last year, we had 8.3 percent of water in our reservoirs especially in the big reservoirs which is Kariba, this time around we have 27.7 percent of water,” he said.

“So that shows you a very big change. Going forward, the water will still be building up until somewhere towards the end of June so we expect the water levels to go beyond 60 per cent and that will give us quite a bit of leverage to be bale to produce energy for the entire Zambia. I can assure the former minister of finance that yes that debt is being taken care of and that Maamba is operating because they are paid some money. If they were not being paid anything, they would have probably shut the operations. So they do get some money every month which they use for their operations and other things that they need to do. So the debt will be taken care of.”

Meanwhile, when asked by Milenge PF member of parliament when the Kafue Gorge Lower would be fully operational, Nkhuwa said towards the end of March.

“According to the programme that was drawn up between Zesco and Sino hydro who are the contractors, that are doing the work, we are supposed to be fully operational by end of March, beginning of April that is the timeframe that we have been given by the experts doing the work,” he responded.

And when asked by Kamfinsa PF member of parliament Elario Musonda what plans government had when Kafue Gorge Lower was fully operational, Nkuwa said it planned to export the power to other countries.

“Definitely we are going to have more energy than we require going forward and we are positioned in such a way that we are land linked. We will be able to sell the power to all the neighboring countries who need the power. There is a lot of power deficit around us. I can say that the only country that is sufficient in power is Mozambique. So immediately we get that power, we will be earning some foreign exchange for Zambia and maybe depreciation of the kwacha will sort of slow down or it will help a lot in earning foreign exchange. So definitely we have plans to sell this power. We have demand from Congo, Malawi, Angola and Botswana,” he said.

Making a ministerial statement earlier, Nkuwa said government was aggressively addressing the load shedding problem thorough out the country.

“I wish to inform this August House that the power deficit is expected to reduce as a result of significant improvements in the rain pattern and subsequent water flows into the reservoirs, leading to an increase in power generation. Further with the coming of the 750 megawatts, Kafue Gorge Lower this year, load shedding is expected to end. I wish to state that government is aggressively addressing the load shedding problem through out the country, through various initiative including liberalisation of the electricity sub sector through the introduction of the open access regime in the electricity act No. 11 of 2019. A move which is meant to attract more investment and promote competition in the sector. Our expectation is that we will be energy secure this year and going forward,” said Nkhuwa.