Zambia’s electricity deficit is now fully resolved after President Edgar Lungu inaugurated the completion of the country’s first flagship project in 50 years.
The 750 megawatts (MW) Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power plant cost $2.3 billion and is expected to position Zambia as a southern African regional electricity hub by 2025 as envisioned by state-owned power utility company Zesco Limited.
Inaugurating the first component of the facility called Turbine-number two in the Chikankata District in the south, Lungu said the increase in power generation will translate into economic growth for the nation.
“This brings an additional 150 MW of electricity to the national grid. The dark days of load shedding are definitely behind us; the future is bright,” said Lungu.
He said the facility will open up more investment opportunities for Zambian citizens, especially in sectors such as manufacturing.
Lungu faces a general election in three weeks and the project is seen as a major boost for his bid owing to economic turbulences the country recently experienced because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Zambia suffered its worst energy deficit in 2015 after poor rainfall cut hydropower generation by nearly half the installed capacity.
According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Zambia has an installed electricity generation capacity of 2,800 MW, of which 85% is hydro-based.
National access to electricity averages is 31%, with 67% urban and 4% of the rural population having access to the commodity.
Zesco board chairman Mwelwa Chibwe said Lungu is only the second president of six to invest in power generation after the late first Republican President Kenneth Kaunda.
Mwelwa outlined other projects which Zesco has embarked on to meet its target, includes the inclusion of solar and thermal energy which has increased the country’s power generation.
By James Kunda in Lusaka, Zambia