LUSAKA – Zambia, Africa’s top copper producer, plans to double its electricity generation capacity to 2,800 megawatts in 5-6 years to ensure adequate supply of power to the mines, an industry official said on Wednesday.
Christopher Mubemba, the director of transmission development at state-owned Zesco Ltd, said at a mining and energy conference that the company planned to invest about $5.3 billion in generation and transmission projects.
Mubemba said there had been a lot of growth in the economy primarily driven by mining and this would only be sustained with increased investment in electricity generation.
“We do have a problem arising from delayed investment. We have got a plan to invest about $5.3 billion over the next five years and those investments have started,” Mubemba said.
Zambia’s peak electricity demand of 1,650 megawatts (MW) exceeded the country’s generation capacity by about 250 MW and demand was projected to rise by 3-4 percent per year, he said.
Zesco has projects such as the $2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower power generation project, the $420 million Kariba North Bank project and the $120 million Itezhi Tezhi hydro-electric project, he said.
“In terms of power generation, when we finish these will double the generation capacity in the next 5-6 years.”
Mubemba said most of the financing would come in the form of loans and equity. He said Zesco planned to spend the rest of 2013 looking for financing, mainly for Kafue Gorge Lower.
“We have an idea to visit all the big names like Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, New Delhi, Mumbai, London and New York and that will happen over the next six months.”
Zesco would also seek financing from sources such as the World Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank, he said.
Mubemba said Zesco exported power to Namibia, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo and higher generation capacity would also ease the regional power deficit.