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A new dawn for Zambia's energy network

Vickson Ncube is the board chairman of ZESCO. (Image source: ZESCO)

Vickson Ncube, ZESCO board chairman, takes a closer look at the utility’s new Strategic Plan to revitalise the country’s energy sector

Like most countries across the continent, Zambia has experienced its fair share of energy-related issues.

In terms of access to electricity, in many ways the lifeblood of businesses operating in the country and a contributor to general wellbeing, rates have been steadily increasing in recent decades but have slowed since the outbreak of the pandemic – a trend largely reflected across sub-Saharan Africa.

At the start of 2023, alarm bells were also raised when water levels at the Kariba Dam dropped dramatically in light of changes in rainfall patterns. This resulted in reduced generation from the facility – which has an installed capacity of 1,080MW – ultimately threatening enhanced load shedding across the country.

While such stories make for concerning reading, state-owned utility ZESCO has sought to change the narrative around the country’s relationship with energy. To do so, the power company, which produces around 80% of electricity consumed in Zambia, launched the Strategic Plan in February 2023. 

The newly unveiled 10-year rolling plan targets the implementation of a refreshed core ideology and a US$6bn project investment across the utility’s value chain of generation, transmission, distribution and supply. The initiative is guided by five objectives which include to:

• Achieve customer satisfaction and win customer confidence and loyalty;

• Be a financially sustainable organisation that balances the needs of its stakeholders;

• Expand the generation, transmission and distribution systems guided by an integrated resource plan;

• Have an effective maintenance regime for generation, transmission and distribution systems; 

• Align human capital to business objectives. 

At the launch ceremony, ZESCO managing director, Victor Mapani, called for a mindset shift and appealed to all employees to embrace the company’s new core ideology which espouses integrity, teamwork and innovation among its corporate values. In embarking on this initiative, ZESCO is aiming to reorganise and transform into a commercially viable business with a sound reputation and enhanced power generation portfolio, ultimately for the betterment of the country.

Vickson Ncube, ZESCO board chairman, wrote in the company’s Strategic Plan, “The journey ahead is not easy, but it must be travelled with utmost determination and perseverance.” 

Speaking to African Review, he explained, “Zambia has 3,644MW of installed electricity generation capacity, of which 86% is hydro based. In the medium-term, ZESCO is focused on expanding its power generation mix by investing in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The target is to bring onboard a renewable energy mix composed of a minimum of 800MW Solar, 500MW wind and 500MW hydro power energy in the next 10 years. The capacity and energy of all the projects combined when implemented should be adequate to ensure the reliable operation of the Zambian power system.”

Read the full interview in the May issue of African Review here.