Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 04 July 2008 – Zambia has re-connected its national electricity grid to a regional power pool inter-connector and resumed power exports, despite a deficit that has hurt the country’s copper output, a senior energy official said.
Reporting from the Zambian capital, Reuters quoted state power utility Zesco managing director Rhodnie Sisala as revealing this development. He added that the government had given the firm US$49 million (R390 million) to speed up rehabilitation works at two major power stations.
The cash injection was made in a bid to provide adequate power to four new mining units and other industries.
Sisala said Zesco had reconnected to the Zambia-Zimbabwe inter-connector – used to export power to Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho via South Africa – and which was also used at times to import electricity from Mozambique and South Africa.
He added that the Zambian authorities had allowed Zesco to reconnect to the inter-connector after reaching an agreement with other members of the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP), which comprises South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Reuters reports that, like many countries in the region, Zambia faces power deficits during peak demand, but has surplus power to export at night when most copper mines and industry reduce their demand.
The mineral-rich country disconnected itself from the inter-connector in January after three power outages had damaged electrical equipment at its vast copper mines, forcing producers to trim output, and plunging the country into total darkness. “Most of the technical issues which led to the disconnection have now been addressed by the parties involved,” Sisala told a news conference.
As of yesterday, Zesco is exporting between 200 and 300 MW of power, between eight at night and five in the morning to southern African countries in need of additional power.