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.”


Livingstone ‘International’ Airport

We’re happy that construction of a new terminal has started at Livingstone Airport as per the article below from Lusaka Times and have seen the evidence for ourselves. However, when the runway extension was completed at huge expense some years ago, we were promised direct flights from Europe, Asia and other African countries apart from South Africa and that has not happened. Let’s hope the new terminal isn’t another ‘white elephant’ and actually produces an increase in international flight connections, otherwise it will just be a waste of more money!

“Communications and Transport Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa has said that it is governments priority to ensure that all airports in the country are operational.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of new international terminal building at Livingstone international airport estimated to cost about $12 million, Professor Lungwangwa said that it is for this reason that government is carrying out maintenance works in provincial airports to improve connectivity in the country.

Professor Lungwangwa noted that with massive investment witnessed in Livingstone especially in the hospitality industry the number of tourists flying into Livingstone has been on the upswing. And speaking at the same function Southern Province Minister Daniel Munkombwe said that one does not need to doubt that the Government under the leadership of Rupiah Banda is a working government.

He said that government through its sound economic policies is attracting a lot of investors and hence need to increase airport capacity. And at the same function National Airports Corporation Limited Managing Director Robinson Masitala said that the corporation has many challenges but that it will endeavor to provide efficient services to airline operators and the traveling public.

He said that the corporation is in the process of acquiring state of the art ground handling equipment to enhance service delivery capabilities at all the four international airports in the country.”


Offices, Chanters Lodge

Here’s two good photos of the new offices at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone. You can see immediately that the pictures weren’t taken by an amateur! They’re the work of Phil Broadhurst at www.fishfilms.co.uk who’s staying with us at the moment as he’s part of the crew filming ‘Lion Country‘, the ITV documentary series being shown in UK about the Lion Encounter, out at Thorn Tree Lodge. Great conservation effort, super activity and wonderful TV programme!

In one of the photos with me are Annastasia and Melinda. ‘Why do we all look a bit fed up?’ I hear you ask. Well, it was pouring with rain, and we were worried about all the activity cancellations that were coming in – upsetting our Guests. Helicopters don’t fly, lions don’t walk and elephants don’t safari in the pouring rain! And, most of our Clients this week are from UK – naturally more weather conscious than others! We were also tired from a busy week made more hectic by moving offices!

The construction of the offices started at the beginning of December and I suppose 4 months start to finish wasn’t too bad for the build considering Christmas, New Year and Easter in this period with their long public holidays, plus the fact that we were working during the rains. I had doubts about this project, but not any more. It’s great to have a new attractive office facility and we’re really looking forward to the conversion of rooms 1 and 2 into an executive suite. Without new offices this wasn’t going to be possible.

Like any move anywhere it was all quite stressful, but Annastasia’s pleased with her new office next door to mine though we need phone extensions – due to be installed next week. Anny’s previous location has re-invented itself as a linen store! “Come to the office!” Has definitely taken on a new tone at Chanters Lodge!

Thanks again to Phil for the super pictures!


Office With A View

Check the view from the window of our new offices at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia – looking west up Obote Avenue. Isn’t that nice? Have you moved in? We hear you ask.

Errrmmm, no, not quite, but we will, the moment the curtains are up!

Then we’ll post a view of the interior too – minus the beer crates we might have to be sitting on!


Livingstone In Perspective

Probably the last guest blog from Ruth Binney for a while, that’s Ruth with my wife Ireen pictured above in the latest fashion at Victoria Falls!

“Back now in grey and rainy England, my mind is full of memories of Zambian warmth – not just the sunshine but the smiles and generosity of everyone who made my recent visit so enjoyable. Particular thanks must go to Richard and his family, and to all the staff at Chanters Lodge who looked after me so well.

As a ‘regular’ tourist, the highlights were the rhino walk and the one day safari to Chobe (reported in previous blogs), as well as the sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone and the visit to the Falls which, full of water after the rains, were awesomely powerful – and wet. If you are reading this and anticipating a visit soon believe me (as Richard will undoubtedly tell you) you WILL get soaked. Even with a hired raincoat and the umbrella of my guide, I was wet through. The Knife Edge Bridge was a river and the spray so intense that it was like being in a rainstorm. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

As for everyday experiences, writing this on a Saturday afternoon I am recollecting the gathering around the TV to watch the football last weekend – a great way to share a sporting experience with fellow Arsenal supporters!

Shopping in Livingstone included the new Shoprite supermarket which is well stocked, bright and cheerful, but also visits to the fishmonger, butcher, chemist and stationer. Out with Melinda I also met her friends and members of her family and visited the market packed with stalls selling vegetables and fruit of all kinds. There – and on every street corner – ‘talk time’ for the mobile can be bought. This is definitely the most prized commodity for young and old alike.

To visit the home of Susan, one of Richard’s senior staff, was a privilege and a pleasure. For her, saving means buying cement and having bricks made so that her home can be extended. She is one of many young women acting as sole supporters of their families.

The food at Chanters was as good as ever – I specially recommend the Bean Curry and the Bream. At a family meal I followed Zambian tradition and ate nshima and chicken with my hands – it was delicious! The pool is inviting and warm and the garden carefully tended. As well as the many geckos I was also happy to spot a chameleon fly catching.

The downsides? Very few, but the internet is expensive and sporadic and business wise enterprises such as Richard’s suffer from the monopolies of banking, TV and other utilities in terms of both price and service. It makes some of our complaints seem trivial in retrospect.

Should you visit? Yes certainly – it is an experience that no one should miss and will surely give you a new slant on life. I can’t wait to be back in Livingstone and at Chanters Lodge again.”

Thanks Ruth, it was great to see you!



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!


Zambia Reserves

From ThePostOnline

“There’s no underlying need for Zambia to build reserves beyond the current US$1.8 billion hence the surplus should be directed at infrastructure investment to stimulate the local economy, observes Standard Chartered Bank head of research for Africa Razia Khan. And Khan has said there are possibilities of extra-budgetary expenditure in the run-up to the 2011 elections that may see the government to overshoot its planned domestic debt issuance.

Khan challenged the government to put in place measures that would ensure the economy to be ‘firing in all cylinders’ to result in satisfactory and meaningful growth that would subsequently reduce poverty levels in the country. Last year, Zambia recorded US$1.8 billion, which is about four to five months import cover due to increased inflows from the International Finance Institutions, mainly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which boosted the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

However, financial market experts and analysts have questioned the motive behind the continued stockpiling of the reserves, saying Zambia should just save slightly above what is required as import cover and use the surplus for infrastructure development such as roads. It is also understood that there were several challenges in maintaining large currency reserves, which included fluctuations in exchange rates, low international interest rates and reduction in purchasing power of the reserve currency due to inflation.

The financial experts, who preferred anonymity, stated that there was no need for Zambia to continue stockpiling foreign reserves when the country’s infrastructure capacity which is key to enhance economic growth was not being developed. “Why do we want to keep so much money doing nothing instead of investing it into infrastructural projects that will help stimulate the country’s economy?” questioned the experts.

Commenting on the issue and giving a foreign exchange market outlook for Zambia last week, Khan said the Zambian Kwacha had started 2010 with a powerful advance, leaving the US$/kwacha at 4.2 per cent below turn-of-year levels and at 22.7 per cent below the K5,750 which was the 2009 peak.”

And that 22.7% represents the Kwacha income loss we’ve suffered in a year as a result! What a lot of sense this piece makes, though I don’t suppose anyone will listen!


African Economy

Continuing yesterday’s post from Reuters

“That is not to say it will be a smooth ride. Eric Chirwa, a 40-year-old Zambian miner, can tell you what a tough year it’s been in Luanshya: its century-old copper mine was mothballed in the depths of the global slump, leaving 1,700 miners out of work and at the mercy of the banks with whom they had racked up huge debts in the boom years. He’s been tracking world copper prices on a daily basis, and has seen them rebound: “In the past, we never used to know the copper price,” he said. “Now I’m checking the price every day in the internet cafe.”

Internet access is one aspect of the technology driving changes in Africa that go far beyond letting a miner anticipate fluctuations in copper prices. In central Africa, Rwanda has invested heavily in broadband and is promoting itself as a business services hub. Far more visible, of course, is the cell phone. One person in three has one: in 2007 Africa had 270 million of them, according to industry association GSMA, up from 50 million in 2003. The uptake shows little sign of slowing as five years of annual growth above 5 percent swell the middle classes.

Mobile money transfer systems such as M-PESA from Kenya’s Safaricom (SCOM.NR) have allowed people with no bank accounts — still the vast majority — to ping money to each other for a fraction of the cost of transfers or a bus ride to deliver cash. The system has evolved to incorporate an array of payments from taxi fares to food, drinks and movie tickets, making it possible to spend a whole day in Nairobi without carrying cash. Cities, towns and villages are cluttered with billboards advertising the latest cell phone service or gimmick.

The macroeconomic effect is huge.

A World Bank study released in November suggested half the 5 percent growth Africa enjoyed from 2003-08 was due to improvements in infrastructure, mainly telecommunications. “Cell phones have already transformed many economies in Africa,” said Arthur Goldstuck, head of Johannesburg-based technology research firm World Wide Worx. “But the cell phone will become far more important than it is now.”

Researchers of M-PESA’s impact on Kenya say it is boosting rural incomes by as much as 30 percent, allowing small farmers to diversify out of subsistence agriculture. As browser-enabled “smart” cell phones go mainstream in the next 5-10 years, Africans will gain access to the internet-based services and information that have driven huge productivity gains in the rich world.”

In Zambia pity then that internet services are still so unreliable and expensive, and that the cellphone network also grinds to a halt so frequently. We’re told that more Africans have access to a cellphone than to running water. How’s that for ‘development’?

The Picture
A Kenyan enjoying Victoria Falls on the Zambian side!


New Offices

You’ll see from the photo that we’ve made good progress on the construction of our new offices at Chanters Lodge, rather ahead of time! When Susan arrived for work this morning I said to her (in a harsh tone) “Report to me in my office!” “Yes Sir!” she said. Stopped, looked at me, looked at the progress on the building, laughed and went on her way!

Great stuff!


Major New Projects Planned For Zambia

This from LusakaTimes.com

“The Zambia government plans to construct a dam and an electricity power plant of 750 Megawatts (MW) capacity below the existing plant on Kafue River under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. Toll roads, health centres, new prison facilities and schools have also been planned under the PPP projects in a major construction programme that will change the face of Zambia when implemented.

Director of the newly established PPP Unit at the Ministry of Finance and National Planning David Ndopu told the Sunday Mail in an interview that the objective of the Kafue Gorge Lower is to increase electricity generation capacity and enhance security of supply. He said Government will sponsor the project through the Ministry of Energy and Water Development at an estimated cost of between US$1.5 million and US$1.8 million.

The private sector will construct and operate the dam and the electricity power station on a PPP known as Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) for a period of about five to six years.

Mr Ndopu urged Zambians to participate actively in the provision of goods and services under PPP. He said the project ideas will not come from Government alone, but from the private sector, too. Mr Ndopu encouraged local investors to come up with brilliant sellable ideas and to form consortiums with other developers to enhance their credit-worthiness. He said foreign investors will only be granted PPP projects on condition that they engage local people in the execution of the projects.

According to the PPP master plan, Government is also seeking private sector partnerships in the construction of toll roads between Ndola and Lusaka, Chirundu-Lusaka, Livingstone-Lusaka and the Pedicle road that connects the Copperbelt to Luapula Province through the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Government is also considering a toll road that will connect the Lusaka International Airport to the lower Zambezi. The road is expected to ease travel and transportation logistics of tourists arriving at the Lusaka International Airport and wishing to go to the lower Zambezi. This is expected to boost tourism.

Lower Zambezi will be developed into a satellite town of Lusaka at a cost of about US$2 billion. The town will be tailored to cater for a population of about 500,000 people. Among the major developments earmarked for the satellite town are a 100,000 square metre shopping mall, three hotels (one of which will be five star) and three office parks.

Other auxiliaries of this project include a conference centre, high-density residential units and about 8,000 high-cost houses around the shopping mall. The Government and the National Pension Scheme Authority are expected to sponsor this project.”

Grand designs
The photo? Lower Zambezi

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