SUN BUSINESS REPORTER writes
PLANS by Government to import 300MW through ZESCO to supplement local power generation are welcome, says Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president says Jervis Zimba.
Mr Zimba said the move would benefit farmers and the nation as a whole and deserved to be supported by all Zambians.
He said that the decision should be supported by all well-meaning Zambians, adding that agriculture sector needed such initiative as water levels at Kariba and Kafue drop to alarming levels, thereby creating a crisis point.
“Under the circumstances, alternative sourcing of power is inevitable and a must as it will help the country to navigate the period during which the power supply shortfall which has arisen largely because of the poor rainfall pattern experienced last season,” Mr Zimba said.
He said in a statement that the situation had further highlighted the dangers of over dependency on hydro generated power and stressed the importance of accelerating the investments to diversify Zambia’s sources of power generation going forward.
Mr. Zimba said that additional power supply should be imported with immediate effect and has urged government to consider the option with the speed it deserves.
He however, advised that the measure should be temporary such that when local generation improved, assuming good rainfall supply was experienced in the upcoming rainy season. The ZNFU President, said everyone should clearly understand that the cost of production would go up but that a hard choice must be made between having access to expensive power and paying for it, or having no power and business grounds to a halt.
Meanwhile, Mr. Zimba said that government has called on the Union to help mobilise farmers to grow maize under irrigation so that Zambia had adequate national stocks to safeguard national food security.
Mr. Zimba has however said that the move could only be made possible if the farming areas had access to electricity for irrigation, and importing power as a safe buffer in achieving the move and managing the national load shedding process is the only way.
He said ZNFU remains committed to discuss with the relevant authorities as businesses sought to survive the effects of reduced power supply which is one of the worst aftermaths of climate change which has been felt by all.
Energy Minister, Mathew Nkhuwa announced recently that Zambia would next week start importing power from ESKOM of South Africa at a cost of $13.5 million.
Mr. Nkhuwa further said that with the inclusion of transmission charges the cost would go up to $21 million.