PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu on Friday said he regretted the ongoing power deficit in the country but did not clearly state when the power load-shedding will end.
The head of State said it was particularly unfortunate that the power deficit in the country had impacted heavily on household level.
“It is regrettable that small-scale businessmen, whose businesses depend on electricity, have had to endure long hours without electricity to power their businesses. I feel for that barber who works hard to feed his family in Mandevu, Lusaka; I feel for that young beautician in Masala, Ndola, whose salon business is critically affected because of load shedding; what about that welder in Chiwempala, Chingola who has had to work in the night because that is when power returns,” President Lungu told journalists at State House.
He said the lasting solution to the power deficit lay in more investment in renewable energy such as solar.
The President said he expected Zesco Limited to finish the solar project by mid-next year.
“This 120 megawatt solar PV under the GETFIT programme which has six 20 megawatt projects expected to reach commercial operation date in the third quarter of 2020.
“In the short term, however, my government has made a decision to import power from Eskmo of South Africa. The initial requirement is to pay 44 million United States dollars of which 10 million United States dollars has already been paid. Next week, 14 million United States dollars will be paid and anytime soon thereafter, the rest of the amount will be settled,” President Lungu explained.
“These imports are a stop-gap measure as we wait for the coming on board of 750 megawatts of power from Kafue Gorge Lower in early March next year. The project is at 80 per cent completion. Our experts, on the other hand, have predicted that the 2019/2020 rainy season will give us normal to above normal rain. This means that in 2020, we expect our hydro-power stations to revert to normal production,” the President added.
H said: “in addition, my government is scaling up power production from solar to mitigate the effects of climate change now and in future.”