A BULB does not produce power! Neither does an electricity pole or transformer. The power production process is a long, complex engineering puzzle, such that it may not be necessary for a lay person to know every bit of the mind-numbing process.
But at least we know that Zambia’s installed power capacity stands at about 2,800 megawatts (MW) and that 85 per cent of that is hydro-based and highly susceptible to the vagaries of climate change, especially drought.
Currently, the main hydro power stations in Zambia include the 1, 080 MW Kariba North Bank power station in Siavonga, 990 MW Kafue Gorge Upper hydro power station in Chikankata, 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydro power station in Chikankata, 108 MW Victoria Falls power station in Livingstone, the 120 MW Itezhi Tezhi hydro power station in Itezhi tezhi and the 58 MW Lunsemfwa hydro power station in Luano.
Aside these hydro power stations, there is a coal-fired power plant called Maamba Collieries in Sinazongwe. It was commissioned in late 2016 and can produce up to 300 MW of power for Zesco.
There are also mini-hydro power stations at Shiwang’andu (one megawatt), Lunzua in Mbala (14.8 megawatts), Musonda falls (five megawatts) in Mansa, Lusiwasi (12 megawatts) in Serenje and Chishimba falls (15 megawatts) in Kasama.
To ensure a stable energy sector, these power stations and other electricity–related matters ought to be administered by an experienced team of people. But running Zesco Limited is never easy!
So, when engineer Victor Mapani was appointed as managing director of Zesco Limited, Zambia’s sole power utility, in early December last year, everyone who cares knew that the man was going to sit on a very thorny chair of authority.
To some people, especially the uninitiated, the mention of Zesco simply points to a financially afloat company whose employees look forward to every month-end to receive heavy perks and other incentives. Maybe that’s true!
But the overt truth is that at the time Mapani was enjoined to head Zesco, he found it in a very bad position, in every sense. Firstly, the company, which is a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), was sitting on a screaming US $2.7 billion debt.
Other negatives associated with Zesco, at the time, include the story of the over unconnected 67,000 potential customers, nepotism and cadreism. All these vices flourished under the play park-like environment that was created by the PF government.
As per the PF weird and wild constitution which says only those in the party’s ranks should be put in positions of authority in parastatals, so was the case at Zesco. The power utility was as good, or is it bad, as the PF secretariat, if staffing is anything to go by.
While PF officials were ambling around in Zesco offices, posing as managers, the firm, as of December 3, 2021, had a maintenance backlog of distribution system of over 67,000 customers awaiting power connection from as far back as 2016.
The power utility needed reforms to meet the demands of new and old customers but with the Kilimanjaro high debt that was contracted by the past management at Zesco, Mapani and his directors needed odd ingenuity.
The US$2.7 billion debt, by whatever means, needed to be pulled to pieces, 85, 000 electricity pole lines needed to be sourced and transformers also needed to be bought.
All those necessities piled pressure on Mapani and his directors. The amount needed for such materials to be procured amounted to US$108 million.
So far, Mapani has scored highly on the mentioned thematic points, albeit more is still being done in the continued restoration of Zesco.
Principally, Zesco is categorised into generation, transmission and distribution.
It generates power from the aforementioned power stations.
Commenting on Mapani’s achievements, hitherto, Lusaka resident Dillon Mayangwa said Zesco has reclaimed its image as a parastatal that is keen on fulfilling its mandate.
He is elated by Mapani’s desire to “proudly and efficiently deliver electricity and other energy services to all Zesco customers.”
“For a long time, Zesco has been managed poorly with many cadres taking a centre stage of this important public institution but today it is a different story. Poor governance of Zesco is no longer there,” Mayangwa said.
“As we are talking, the backlog of debts is being dismantled and customers are getting connected. That is what we call leadership!”
He added that having worked in various power utilities and quasi-government institutions in Zambia and abroad, Mapani’s extensive experience in the energy sector has contributed positively to the positive transformation of Zesco.
Mayangwa said Zesco is undertaking key which will result in the company to start to make profits.
Kalemba November 7, 2022