Electricity – Zambia

This from Steel Guru is welcome, though one wonders how long the project will take to complete. “Might soon be eased” strikes me as being too optimistic! Yesterday we had a 10 hour power cut and this was the 3rd or 4th power cut during the week. At Chanters Lodge we have a 25.5 kva stand by generator, bought in 2007 but it’s expensive to run, given the 30% increase in the cost of diesel so far this year. The only real solution to the “Zesco Problem” is competition, and that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Here’s the piece:

“Zambia’s electricity woes might soon be eased following the planned construction of a 600 MW plant at a cost of USD 1.5 billion to tap into the nation’s power deficit and avert load shedding to households and flourishing industry, chiefly the mines. Mr Situmbeko Musokotwane finance minister of Zambia and Energy counterpart Mr Kenneth Konga said that they recently returned from China where they signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the project.

According to Mr Musokotwane, the construction of the new hydro power project to be situated in Southern Zambia is expected to commence next year in April, and will help the country reduce on its power deficiency and meet the demand. Mr Musokotwane said that the construction of the Kafue Gorge (pictured above) Lower power project in southern Zambia would start around April next year with initial financing of USD 1 billion expected to come as a loan from the Chinese government. A new JV company, to be formed by state run power company known as Zesco, China’s Sino Hydro Company and the China Africa Development Fund, will borrow the initial funding of $1 billion from China to start the project.

Mr Musokotwane said that the new company would sign a power purchase agreement with Zesco by April 2011 to facilitate the investments into the plant. Zambia has in recent years faced power outages because of the deficiency in the supply to the industrial, domestic and chiefly the mines that have forced the increased demand for power to mine copper, as well as to provide goods and services, as well as to meet domestic demand.

The insufficient capacity by the state owned Zesco to meet demand has resulted in regular power outages, partly due to ageing equipment in the southern African country, which has had no major investments to raise power generation capacity for decades, forcing it to import power from the Democratic Republic of Congo to keep the mines running.

Mr Andoi Akakandelwa deputy energy minister of Zambia recently revealed that Zambia needs about USD 7 billion to meet energy demand in the copper rich nation to necessitate the smooth operation of the mines and other energy requiring projects, as well as to meet agricultural growth. He noted that despite Zambia’s potential, it has failed to maximize its abundant resources that include water to meet the increasing demand.”


World Cup For The Rich

I was sent this the other day in relation to South Africa

“Surely not too many people will shell out R15,000 (about ZK10m!) plus VAT for a table at a dinner where the FIFA boss Mr Blatter will offer his views on “The Socio-Economic Impact of the World Cup on SA”. We already know that the answer is “precious little”. One reason for this is that in return for enormous sums of money, FIFA have assured their so-called commercial partners that the obedient South African authorities will close all possible competitor businesses for miles around the sacred grounds and routes. Fans coming to the Moses Basket in Durban for example, will find that the Sky Car which travels up the handle of the basket, the pubs, coffee shops and stores in the precinct all closed and shuttered throughout the tournament. Curio and trinket sellers have been chased away and their stock confiscated. There won’t even be beer for sale.

The “One Light One TV” headline was not a new electioneering slogan but the warning that in order to ensure enough power to keep the stadium lights burning, the rest of us might need to switch off all our other stuff. Reportedly one of the president’s wives is already setting an example in this matter. Actually that might just make the parties go even better. Drink fast before the beer gets warm. We are going to have a great World Cup even if it is a round ball being chased by fragile and overpaid primadonnas.”

Interesting. From our point of view as a small guest house in Livingstone, Zambia, it doesn’t look as if we’ll have a lot of spin off from the World Cup, although we do have one or two related reservations.

I also strongly suspect we’ll have major electricity load shedding during the period, as Zambia sells it’s power to the south to keep the stadium lights burning. Only 2% of World Cup tickets have been sold to non South African Africans – most Zambians may miss a lot of games because of power cuts. As one of my sons said the other day – a World Cup for the rich, not for Africa.


Energy Conservation

I liked this from Rules of Thumb

“Start with energy conservation. Jimmy Carter tried to get us headed in that direction more than 30 years ago. He was right then, and the policy is right today. Retrofit old buildings, offer tax credits for energy conserving investments, start installing simple switches and existing thermostats and watch the nation’s energy use start to go down.

Then actually invest in mass transit, and not in highway construction. If you want to change our policy of importing oil from our adversaries, then do something about it: instead of sending more money to build more highways, send money to reinforce transit. Build light rail lines; require cities to introduce higher density zoning; where ever and when ever possible favor transit over the car.

Offer tax credits for wind and solar investments. And look for smart, small, innovative energy entrepreneurs who need support to bring their technologies to market. Take my friend Eddie Sturman, for example. (Go to his web site, www.sturmanindustries.com to find out more) Eddie’s mastery of energy and technology earned him high honors from NASA for what he did to help America’s space program. Now he has existing technology that will produce huge efficiencies for every type of engine that runs today, from engines that power autos to engines that produce heat and electricity.

But when Eddie applied for federal support to help commercialize his technology, he was stonewalled, the money went to the big automakers. It was more of a jobs expenditure than an alternative energy one.

Other than that, the way to a smart, rational, future-focused energy policy is the same way we’ve known for at least 30 years. Simple, efficient steps that save energy and shift our reliance from non-renewable to renewable fuels. It’s not a miracle. It’s common sense.”



Our new small office block is taking longer to build than we’d hoped at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone. But there’s some progress as evidenced by this picture.

Most of the roofing materials are now to hand (if not yet paid for!) And we hope the roof will be on this week, weather and builders permitting. If we’re occupying the offices and solvent by the end of February, we’ll be happy enough! Even if it means sitting on beer crates with laptops on laps!


IMF Support

This from Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to lend Zambia $81 million to be disbursed immediately, a factor likely to provide short-term support to its kwacha currency. Despite being a fully convertible currency, Zambia’s kwacha remains very illiquid and can be moved by aid and donor flows. The unit has gained more than 20 percent since February due to a recovery in the price of copper, its main export.

The IMF said the anti-poverty funds were the final part of a $262 million concessional lending package, but added that Africa’s biggest copper producer could afford to borrow from capital markets to pay for new infrastructure. “The 2010 budget is well balanced. The authorities aim to create fiscal space for poverty-reducing expenditure and for infrastructure investment to sustain robust and diversified growth,” it said in a statement.

Zambia’s risk of default was low and there was scope for external borrowing on non-concessional terms to finance essential infrastructure, particularly in power generation, it said. However, the Washington-based lender said the government needed to improve the efficiency of state power firm Zesco and raise electricity tariffs to levels that would attract private investment.

Increase electricity tariffs – we had a 35% increase this year and electricity is already our highest monthly cost excluding labour. Words fail me….


Chanters & The Biosphere

I re-blogged a piece yesterday about hotel reviews, here’s the latest review of Chanters Lodge:

“I spent two short periods (two nights and three nights) at the beginning and end of a Biosphere expedition to Caprivi at Chanters Lodge having stayed in one of the bigger hotels last year. Chanters was delightful and the staff very friendly and helpful. Richard, the manager, made advance bookings for me of a number of activities by email and arranged free transport from and to Livingstone airport which maximised my time to see the sights and wildlife. The free wifi to check email was a bonus.

The restaurant has a tempting menu with a wide range of dishes including authentic Zambian food and does not disappoint. We had our end-of-expedition dinner there and they coped brilliantly with the unexpected extra numbers. Some people on our expedition switched to Chanters on our return leg as a result of our positive reports.”

How nice is that then!


An End To ‘Loadshedding’?

For all Zesco haters, is this a glimmer of hope…..?

“Four Southern African countries have agreed to develop a $225 million power line that would allow an extra 600 megawatts to be transmitted around the region, an official said on Thursday. The project is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2010. It seeks to connect Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia — all of which plan to boost the amount of power they generate in coming years — in a project known as Zizabona.

It will ease congestion on a transmission corridor to South Africa, the region’s largest consumer of electricity which is battling to meet demand. It also will allow the four countries to export more power and to trade energy with each other via a regional power pool. The project also will allow easier transmission of hydropower from the Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa and the rest of the region.

“The four utilities will develop, build and own the transmission infrastructure. This project seeks to reduce losses and congestion on the SAPP central corridor,” said Musara Beta, an official from Zimbabwe’s ZESA. ZESA is one of the four promoters of the project along with Zambia’s ZESCO, Nampower of Namibia and the Botswana Power Company. He was addressing a power conference hosted by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). The Zizabona transmission line will extend from the Hwange substation to a switching station near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, into Livingstone, Zambia. The line will also link Pandamatenga in Botswana and the Zambezi substation in Namibia.

“The project clearly would serve the national electricity needs of all four member countries and the interconnector would also … decongest the central corridor,” Beta added. With the region facing increased power shortages, the SAPP is turning its focus to smaller initiatives with relatively short timelines in order to meet growing demand, which experts say will peak at 100,000MW in 2025. Apart from the Zizabona link, Zimbabwe’s ZESA has also proposed the construction of a 160 kilometre transmission line to increase the north-south transfer capacity of the Zimbabwe network to 600MW, against the current 200MW.

The proposed Central Transmission Corridor (CTC) project is to be jointly developed by ZESA, which would have a 20 percent shareholding in the venture, while prospective private investors would take up the additional 80 percent. ZESA chief executive Ben Rafemoyo said the project would require $100 million.”

The picture? Kariba Dam. Oh, and the tariffs have just gone up 35%!


Tourism & Zambia’s Economy

Here’s something possibly more interesting than your normal Monday morning inbox – it’s my Thursday by the way, as my half day will be on Wednesday this week…

This from AFP.

“Zambia’s dependence on copper has tethered its economy to every swing in the metal’s price for decades, but President Rupiah Banda told AFP heavy new government spending will help break that cycle. Zambia’s troubles mirror those of many African countries whose economies depend heavily on exports of a handful of raw materials, leaving them vulnerable to swings in commodities prices, like the dramatic drops seen last year.

Zambia’s case is particularly severe, with 80 percent of its exports earnings coming from copper. The 65 percent drop in the metal’s price last year sparked thousands of layoffs and a 73 percent fall in the value of its kwacha currency. The country’s leaders have long promised to diversify the economy away from copper, but in an interview with AFP, Banda said he is confident his government will make progress by pouring money into long-term investments in manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.

“What we have done at least, we have put a lot of emphasis and a lot of money in our budget on those sectors we want to concentrate on in addition to mining,” Banda told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. “We want to keep the mines that are open open, but we also want to start factories, we want to start more agricultural projects.”

When Zambia won independence from Britain in 1964, it was considered a middle-income country. But a fall in copper prices in the 1970s and failed exercises in socialism left it among the world’s poorest today. Banda was elected president in October 2008, in the middle of a new downturn that saw copper prices fall from 8,000 US dollars per metric tonne to 2,800 dollars in about six months. But he inherited a better situation than the country has seen in past downturns. Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.2 percent in the last three years, and is forecast to slow to four percent growth in 2009.

The government used the good times to build up more than one billion dollars in foreign reserves, giving Banda a cushion to spend even during a downturn. He is putting a major emphasis on agriculture, increasing spending by 37 percent this year in hopes of improving food production and creating new export crops. Zambia, which is among the few African countries that has never experienced major civil strife, boasts large tracts of land with potential for game ranching and adventure holiday tours.

The country is also looking to new markets for its goods. Mining minister Maxwell Mwale told AFP that resurgent demand in China and India has helped stabilise copper prices around 4,500 dollars, with output up more than 13 percent in the first four months of the year. Energy minister Kenneth Konga said the country had the capacity to produce an additional 8,000 megawatts of power and export it to its neighbours such as South Africa, which suffers steep energy deficiencies.”

Make of this what you will – in my opinion Zambia talks tourism but doesn’t ‘do’ tourism! Some examples? Immigration, infrastructure, tax, and foreign investment. That bit about increased electricity exports? That’s a bit of a joke with Zesco in the state it’s in….

The picture? Fishing for ‘yellow bellies’ on Lake Tanganyika, Northern Zambia.
I wish…………


A Terrible Meeting

I’ve blogged before about Zesco and Kafue weed – now they come togther in an unholy dark meeting! And, it’s not just the mines and industry that are getting increased load shedding, at Chanters Lodge we’ve experienced this too, we’re just happy to have our stand by generator! Check this piece from Reuters.

Zambia’s state-run power utility is rationing electricity to its vital copper mines because a water weed, introduced from Brazil in the 1990s as a flower, has blocked flows into the biggest hydro power dam. The southern African country, the continent’s largest copper producer, is also rationing power supply to manufacturers while domestic users have been cut off and traffic disrupted by the failure of lights, a company official said on Tuesday.

The utility company Zesco Ltd.’s spokeswoman, Lucy Zimba, said the aquatic weeds had choked the flow of water into a dam at Kafue Gorge power station, forcing it to halt some generation units and cutting 360 megawatts of Kafue’s 990 MW capacity. Zambia has a total generation capacity of 1,600 MW. “We have had 360 megawatts of power out of our system since May 30 and this has caused major disruptions. It has affected the mines (and) other industries,” Zimba told Reuters.

“We are also carrying out further investigations to see whether it is only the weeds that have caused this little flow of water,” she added. Zambia’s power supply has been affected by the plant, known as Kafue weed, over the past 10 years. Energy officials say a Zambian woman traveling from Brazil in the early 1990s introduced the weed, thinking it was a flower, and grew it near the river, causing a recurring problem.

Zimba said the utility was working to remove the exotic plant from the Kafue River.
Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), which buys electric power from Zesco and sells to nearly all copper mines in Zambia, said the utility had capped power supply to mines at 430 MW. CEC’s Chairman Hanson Sindowe could not immediately say whether the mines would reduce production due to the power cuts.

“Zesco Ltd., has informed us that we cannot take more than 430 megawatts (power) at the moment and this has meant reducing supply to the mines,” Sindowe told Reuters. Officials say Zambia copper mines consumed 530 MW during peak production before new mines started operations this year. Sindowe said, however, that the impact of the power reduction on copper output would be moderated because some mines had also suspended or reduced output due to the effects of the global financial crisis.”


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