THINGS AT ZESCO ARE GETTING FROM WORSE TO WORST- Peter Sinkamba

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Peter Sinkamba
Peter Sinkamba

By Peter Sinkamba

THINGS AT ZESCO ARE GETTING FROM WORSE TO WORST

The announcement this afternoon by ZESCO that the company will now switch from “loadshedding” to “emergency loadshedding” is not surprising. Technical staff at ZESCO warned two months ago that if measures were not taken to reverse the over-consumption, the nation was going to experience total blackout by August. And it appears, from the ZESCO statement, that the total blackout from Kariba Dam has dawned ‘ahead of schedule’.

Over the years, Zambia is known to have rationed its water consumption at Kariba Dam more carefully than Zimbabwe. The current scenario is therefore an indication that there is a fundamental problem that has emerged at ZESCO that lays bare the deepening economic crisis in the country.

In the case of Zimbabwe, on 28 November 2022, ZESA stopped generating electricity at the South Power Station of the Kariba Dam (Kariba South).

In 2016, NASA documented the decline of Lake Kariba due to increasingly potent episodes of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

The UN International Panel on Climate Change concluded years back that, as a result of climate change, Southern Africa will be experiencing significantly higher-than-average increases in surface-level temperature and decreases in mean levels of precipitation, while simultaneously having to confront occasional extreme flooding.

Furthermore, from ZRA data, it is clear that the reservoir behind the Kariba Dam has not been at full capacity since 2011 and may only fill up again under rare circumstances.

The decision to suspend generation at Kariba North Bank has come amidst power outages that have already crippled the country’s basic industrial, economic, agricultural and domestic activities.

Ironically, this could leave Zambia to be significantly reliant on coal-fired power plants while increasing the risk of illegal logging and deforestation by the poor for cooking and other domestic and commercial needs.

But today’s crisis goes far beyond what the ZRA could address through safety protocols and engineering at Kariba Dam. While the shutdown at Kariba is the result of local environmental factors, the crisis is bad news because there have been offers from Russian infrastructure developers for low-carbon electricity hydropower generation in Luapula province, as well as nuclear.

Elsewhere in Africa, power generation has made a spectacular comeback with massive hydro and nuclear projects. Some hydro power projects have been initiated and nearing completion in Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan and elsewhere. This has been fueled through a combination of financial assistance and technical expertise offered by BRICS members, especially China, India, Brazil and Russia. The Gulf States have also taken interest to fund some projects.

Unless, and until Zambia thinks out of the box, and joins the BRICS, it is unlikely that the power crisis will be resolved in the near future.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Peter sinkamba has suddenly become a Russian puppet. Did Tanzania join the BRICS before undertaking that nuclear power project?

    • @ kubeja badala
      Tanzania’s Nuclear power Project is still in it’s planning stage, and Russia is heavily involved through it’s Russia Nuclear Energy Agency – Rosatam.
      At the moment there are only two countries on the African Continent with Nuclear power plants…South Africa and Egypt.
      What Peter Sinkamba’s article is saying is for us to tap into the potential of leading players in Nuclear Energy like Brazil, Russia, China if we are to exploit additional sources of energy for Zambia..A simple , well researched and factual article.

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