[DEBATE] : Energy trouble in the region - Zambia
azwell at ecsecc.org
Tue Jan 22 21:32:27 GMT 2008
Hell, are we actually witnessing limits to "growth" due to poor
infrastructure and energy planning or what?
Funny, no one has noticed how the DA has called for lawlessness from Eskom -
it has advised Eskom to unilaterally suspend exports of power to
neighbouring countries, whatever the actual costs in international
commercial laws of such an action, and the net effects to white South
African capital that has swallowed up many industries in this region, while
in the same breathe, it has demanded assurances from the new leadership of
the ANC to the effect that they would not undermine the rule of law and the
courts! A very crude demonstration of naked self interest by an extremely
pampered and spoilt real "surplus population", me thinks!
Zambia's politicians are offering the same weak excuses for the power
crisis, as we are hearing here, including Zimbabwe.
Article is from The Zambian Post.
BLACKOUTS TO CONTINUE
By Post Reporters
Wednesday January 23, 2008 Print Article Email Article
Kenneth Konga-"The blackout is due to power shortages in Zimbabwe"!
ENERGY minister Kenneth Konga yesterday said power blackouts would continue
because of increased demand for power.
And last evening almost the entire country experienced a third power
blackout in four days.
Meanwhile, Konga who was grilled by several members of parliament over the
power blackouts, said Zesco Limited would not compensate anyone whose
equipment had been damaged and advised the affected to take up insurance.
And Konga attributed the nationwide power blackout on Saturday to power
shortages in Zimbabwe as a result of the ban on exports from South Africa
while the second blackout on Monday night was due to sudden increase in
Meanwhile, Konga said the government has directed Zesco to temporary
disconnect the Zambian power system from the inter-connectors in Zimbabwe
until the power situation stabilises.
Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament, Konga admitted that Zambia
has not invested in power generation for more than 40 years and the current
demand outstripped supply.
This was after Lusaka Central PF member of parliament Guy Scott said the
power problems were as a result of lack of investment. Konga said he was
also experiencing load shedding despite being Minister of Energy.
"It is a mechanical process, it can fail. I cannot give assurance," he said.
Konga said the load shedding would continue during the peak period, which is
between 18:00 and 21:00 hours. He said strategic institutions such as
military installations including hospitals would be supplied with power
although some of them had standby generators.
Konga said power blackouts were as a result of the computers tripping to
protect inter-connector equipment.
He said if the inter-connectors could not shut, there would be a catastrophe
in Zambia in terms of outage which would affect industries and the economy.
Konga said just like other sectors, some components of the energy sector had
been liberalised. He said supply had been outstripped by 'unprecedented
"Zambia used to be a net generator of electricity and as such, disturbance
of this nature would have been absorbed by the power stations using the
reserve generation capacity. However, due to diminished surplus generation
(which is also known as reserve capacity) in both Zambia and the region the
interconnected system is now vulnerable to any disturbance that may cause
excess load on any power station which otherwise would have been absorbed by
the power station," Konga said. "As of 2002, the maximum demand for power in
Zambia was about 1000 mega watts but as I speak now this has almost doubled.
This high power demand is credited to the good economic policies of the new
deal administration which has resulted in an economic boom. However, this
increased electricity demand has not been matched with increased investment
in power generation."
Konga apologised for the power blackouts.
"To this effect, Zesco has been directed to temporarily disconnect the
Zambian power system from the inter-connectors in the south until the power
situation stabilises," he said.
Konga asked the people to co-operate with Zesco during this difficult time.
Konga said in order to mitigate the deficit; Zesco was arranging further
imports of power from DRC.
Chadiza MMD member of parliament Allan Mbewe asked Zesco to compensate
people whose equipment had been destroyed by the power outage.
But Konga said if there were any pieces of equipment destroyed, then it was
"Members of the public should subscribe to insurance because the fault was
not caused by Zesco. Zesco cannot compensate for a cause that it does not
cause," he said.
Sinda FDD member of parliament Levi Ngoma said the power blackout could have
been an act of sabotage.
Konga said government was still investigating the matter and security wings
would find out if it were sabotage.
Mbabala UPND member of parliament Emmanuel Hachipuka wondered why government
could not separate power generation, transmission and supply because it was
too heavy for one administration.
But Konga said though it was true that the three components were under one,
businessmen were free to setup their own power generation companies such as
Lunsemfwa and Kalungwishi.
Konga said transmission was a common carrier but world over very few people
would invest in distribution and supply because of the attendant challenges.
Solwezi West MMD member of parliament Humphrey Mwanza wondered if the fire
which gutted Shoprite in Solwezi was as a result of power outage.
Konga said it had not been established yet. He said power supply in the
region was now a critical issue with most countries including South Africa
experiencing extended load shedding.
"We have information that at the time of disturbance in Zambia, Zimbabwe was
experiencing power shortages resulting from a ban of exports from South
Africa," he said.
Konga said Zambia too had problems because of collapsed towers from
Caborabasa to Zimbabwe causing instability in Zimbabwe power system which
led to affecting the Zambian power system.
Konga said last year, Zimbabwe experienced several disturbances which
affected the system at Kariba North Bank.
The power systems of Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, DRC
and South Africa were all interconnected and a disturbance occurring in any
of the countries could have an impact on others countries' power systems.
He said while the inter-connector had advantages, it also had disadvantages
because a fault in one country would also affect other countries on the
Konga said prior to the disturbance on January 19 at 19:38 hours, at Kafue
Gorge Power Station four generators were working giving a total generation
of 597 mega watts, with Victoria Falls generating 95 mega watts and Kariba
North Bank, three machines were in operation giving a total of 473 mega
He said the 330kv Leopards Hill, Kariba North Bank 330 kV line one was not
functional due to a tower that collapsed on 30th December 2007.
"This line is still being restored but the works have been delayed due to
the recent heavy rains that could not allow the concrete foundation to dry.
Curing of the concrete normally takes about 21 days and it is estimated that
the tower will be restored in the next few days," he said.
Konga said according to the log of events in the Zesco national control
centre, a high frequency occurred at the Zambian power system and that led
to the tripping of some of the generating equipment at Kariba North Bank
power station and at about the same time at Kariba South Bank Power Station
At Kafue George power station, the four generators that were in service
tripped as they could not sustain the power overload that was imposed on
them due to the failure of the generators at Kariba North Banks.
And briefing the press later, Konga said on Monday the Zesco national
control centre registered a sudden increase in power demand at 19:28 hours.
"This resulted in an increased power flow on the remaining transmission line
linking Kariba North Bank power station to the national grid. The power flow
was beyond the carrying capacity of the line and it therefore tripped on
overload protection," Konga said. "Since Kariba North Bank power station was
not generating to feed the national grid, Kafue Gorge and Victoria Falls
power stations could not sustain the national demand and tripped on
overload. This is a protective reaction by the equipment so as to avoid
He said on the Copperbelt, gas turbines from Copperbelt Energy Corporation
(CEC) and power imports from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were
arranged to supply critical mining loads.
He explained that with the non-availability of Kariba North Bank power
station, only Kafue Gorge and Victoria Falls power stations were available
to supply power to the country.
"The national demand is currently close to 1300 Mega Watts while the
combined generation of the remaining two power stations is 700 Mega watts,"
he said. "The resulting power deficit has led to massive load shedding."
Konga said to mitigate this deficit, Zesco was arranging further imports of
power from the DRC.
"We will be getting 210 Mega watts per day. That is what we have secured
from DRC," Konga said.
He said most of that power would be given to CEC so that mines were not
He further said Zesco had dispatched engineers to locate and repair the
fault on the second transmission line in order to restore power supply from
Kariba North Bank. Konga said government was concerned about frequent power
outages and had since directed the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to set up a
commission of inquiry to establish the cause of the frequent power black
outs in the last few days.
By 18:00 hours last evening, Lusaka, Eastern Province, North Western, parts
of Northern Province, Copperbelt and parts of Luapula Province had no power.
And intermittent power blackouts have damaged some equipment at Kansanshi
Copper Mines and Bwana Mkubwa mines.
Meanwhile, Mandevu and John Laign residents protested on Monday night and
yesterday respectively, over power blackouts.
Commenting on the effects of power blackouts on the mines operations,
Kansanshi Copper Mine public relations manager Godfrey Msiska said the
impact of power blackout on the mines production had been negative.
"We lost 12 hours production as the blackout lasted that long. There was
some damage to some electrical equipment which is being assessed by our
engineers," Msiska said. "On Monday/Tuesday 21s to 22nd, we lost nine hours'
production. We are currently receiving about 50 per cent of our electricity
He said the economic loss was still being assessed and the final tally would
only be known after the assessment.
"Kansanshi Mine operates from open pits, so no miner was affected as we do
not operate any underground mine," said Msiska.
Bwana Mkubwa mine technical manager Andries Scott said some equipment had
"When we have unplanned shut down of power, we are greatly affected and
equipment is damaged. The power blackout has affected our production but we
are still assessing the damage caused so that we calculate the total loss,"
Luanshya Copper Mines chief executive officer Derek Webbstock said by 12:00
hours yesterday, power had not been restored.
"Operations at both Chambeshi and Luanshya mines have not resumed. We
continue to lose money. We lose US $1 million (about K 3.7 billion) income
per day when we are not operating and now we are not operating."
Meanwhile, scores of Mandevu residents protested and burnt some property in
the area over the power blackout on Monday night.
The anger heightened yesterday, as most Zambians feared that they might not
watch the Zambia/Sudan match if there would be power interruption again.
Scores of John Laing residents yesterday stormed Zesco offices demanding for
the re-installation of a transformer which was removed for repair.
Residents' representative, Genesis Mashowa, complained that the compound has
had no electricity since January 4 due to a faulty transformer which was
removed by the institution. Mashowa said Zesco removed the 315 KV
transformers and replaced it with a 200 KV transformer which could not meet
the compounds' demands.
Zesco public relations manager Monica Chisela apologised to John Laing
residents for the company's failure to re-install the transformer.
Chisela said the problems that John Laing was experiencing were due to
vandalism from most of the residents in Lusaka's townships.
And some shop owners at Kamwala shopping complex have complained of not
having electricity since the start of business yesterday.
They complained that business had been affected and appealed to Zesco to
restore electricity before they lost any more business.
And an energy expert, Andrew Kamanga, said the government's
commercialization programme for Zesco had not yielded any positive result
despite being in force for almost 10 years.
Kamanga said the current situation in the energy sector required urgent
re-investments to sustain the industry.
"Actually, the most appropriate thing that should happen is encouraging
private-public partnerships (PPPs) in the energy sector so that we can have
adequate investments that would be able to meet the increasing demand for
energy in Zambia and the whole of SADC region," Kamanga said. "In fact, the
Zambia National Tender Board has just been asking for PPPs in various
sectors and the power generation sub-sector has also been included in the
advert that ran two days ago. Government should therefore take steps to
consider different types of PPPs in that respect to save the energy sector."
The energy sector in the SADC region is facing a looming power deficit as
demand for power is slowly outstripping supply as a result of huge
investments made in several countries, especially in the mining industry.
According to South Africa's Mail & Guardian, neighbouring countries are just
feeling the pinch of South African power utility, Eskom's problems in the
wake of the utility's decision to halt electricity exports to them.
The Mail & Guardian reports that by Tuesday morning, Namibia, Zambia and
Zimbabwe had all reported national power failures and southern African
governments have had to move quickly to clarify the reliability of future
South Africa's neighbouring countries, including Zambia, are net or partial
importers of electricity and South Africa has long been one of their key
sources of secure power.
According to Eskom's latest annual report, for the year to the end of March
2007, total electricity sold by Eskom was 218 120GWh (gigawatt-hours).
Eskom sells power to Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Lesotho and Swaziland.
These sales to neighbouring countries amounted to 13 589GWh, up 3.6 per cent
from the 13 122GWh sold to these countries in 2006, almost double the 6
956GWh exported five years prior to that in 2001 and more than triple the 3
872GWh supplied in 2000.
And Namibia's state-owned publication, New Era, reported that the country
may resort to load-shedding as power failures worsen in South Africa.
Namibia imported 1 632GWh over the year ended in March 2007.
Namibia, which produces 384MW of power from local plants, has a daily
maximum requirement of 450MW, with the extra load imported from South
Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
NamPower, the country's power utility, warned that it might soon be forced
to cut power in proportion to Eskom's load-shedding programme.
"Namibia, being a net importer of electricity, will, in the coming two years
be heavily affected by the regional power shortages," said Paulinus
Shilamba, managing director of NamPower.
But he said NamPower had taken cognisance of the situation in South Africa
and had agreed on ways of minimising load-shedding in Namibia.
Zimbabwe, like Zambia, also encountered power failures across the country on
Saturday night and Sunday, and was again affected by failures on Monday.
The New Zimbabwe website reported that there was no immediate explanation
for Saturday night's power failure, which also hit Zambia and neighbouring
Zimbabwe almost simultaneously.
Zimbabwe's state power utility Zesa said its problems were complicated by
thieves who stole copper wires to two pylons near Harare, which caused a
break in power transmission from Mozambique.
Eskom, which has traditionally exported electricity when it had a surplus,
said on Sunday that it had stopped supplying electricity to neighbouring
countries in the face of the dire shortage at home.
"When we don't have enough capacity for domestic use, we don't sell
electricity," Eskom spokesman Sipho Neke told the South African Press
"There is no surplus, so there are no exports," Neke added.
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