Zambia’s Load Shedding Extended To 12-Hours Owing To Water Shortage

The new measures, effective immediately, will see households endure 12 hours of daily power cuts staggered in six-hour blocks.

Staff Reporter

LUSAKA, Zambia – The Zambian government has announced a significant increase in load shedding, citing critically low water levels at the Kariba Dam and Kafue Gorge Hydroelectric Station. The new measures, effective immediately, will see households endure 12 hours of daily power cuts staggered into six-hour blocks.

The announcement comes amidst growing concern over the El Niño-induced drought that has severely impacted the country’s hydropower generation capacity.

The government’s strategy to address the crisis was outlined in a statement released by Energy Minister Peter Kapala.

“We understand the hardship this will cause,” Minister Peter Kapala acknowledged. “However, these measures are necessary to ensure we have a reliable power supply for the remainder of the year.”

Zambia’s installed electricity generation capacity currently stands at 3,777 megawatts (MW), with hydropower accounting for a staggering 85%. Unfortunately, due to the drought, only 900 MW are being generated from the country’s major dams, creating a deficit of approximately 750 MW.

Short-Term Solutions and Long-Term Vision

Even though load shedding will surely cause disruptions to daily life, the government is not doing nothing. Minister Peter Kapala listed a number of immediate fixes, such as::

  • Increased power imports (188 MW)
  • Renegotiating export contracts to reclaim 160 MW
  • Restarting the 105 MW Ndola Energy Power Plant
  • Developing a 100 MW solar PV power plant in Chisamba (completion expected within 10 months)

Looking beyond the immediate crisis, the government presented a comprehensive plan for long-term energy security. This multi-pronged approach includes:

  • Renewable Energy Expansion: This includes a 120 MW solar PV portfolio programme and large-scale projects like the 2,000 MW solar PV project in collaboration with Masdar.
  • Hydropower Development: Projects like the Luapula Hydropower Project (271 MW) and the Lusiwasi Lower Hydropower Project (86 MW) will diversify the energy mix.
  • Net Metering: This initiative will encourage residents and businesses to generate their own solar power and contribute excess energy back to the grid.
  • Integrated Resource Plan (IRP): This comprehensive strategy aims to secure an additional 6,505 MW of generation capacity by 2026 with a projected investment of USD 4.984 billion.

Call to Action for Citizens

Minister Peter Kapala concluded the address by urging citizens to adopt alternative energy sources like gas stoves and solar water heaters. Additionally, using energy-efficient appliances can help lessen the strain on the national grid.

The coming months will be challenging for Zambians, but the government’s multi-pronged approach offers a glimmer of hope for a brighter and more sustainable energy future.

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