Zambia braces for darkness as power cuts loom

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A SHADOW of uncertainty has fallen over Zambia as ZESCO, the national power utility, announced an eight-hour daily black out starting Monday, March 11.

Therefore, on a lighter note, people with iphones should probably pull out their power banks while those with named Android phones with battery capacities to “charge a car” will be moving about smiling.

This drastic measure, is a stark reminder of the country’s dependence on a vulnerable power grid, which it has attributed to the unrelenting grip of El Niño, a weather phenomenon causing dangerously low water levels in the Kafue and Zambezi rivers.

The challenge has brought about a 700 megawatts deficit.

Zesco managing director Eng.Victor Mapani pointed to the fact that “Zambia is 87% dependant on hydroelectric power while the remaining 13% is sourced from other alternatives including heavy fuel, ethanol and solar.”

He stated that due to the reduction in the water levels, the utility is unable to produce power in full capacity. 

“With the low rainfall levels the country is experiencing, in fact the lowest in 20 years, Zesco needs to manage the 214 megawatts being produced while looking to feed the 1,080 megawatts installed capacity.” he said.

Mapani said apart from the announced 8 hours load shedding, highlighted other mitigation measures the utility will undertake while looking for a lasting solution.

He stated that Zesco would continue the importation of power from her neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe,” the (same) way we have been doing for the past 8 months based on bilateral agreements. We will also claw back on export of power, so that we can leave some life saving supply for our local people.”

He further assured citizens that the utility will have talks with major power consumers such as the mines in a bid to make them use less electricity.

During this period, Mapani encouraged people to take an example from other countries and use alternative sources of energy like gas as they carry on with their day to day activities.

By Elesani Phiri 

Kalemba 7th March, 2024

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