THE energy sector has suffered many years of neglect which has resulted into a crippling power deficit in the country but the Patriotic Front (PF) has the ability to remedy the current electricity deficit that has caused untold challenges to the economy and citizens in general, President Edgar Lungu has said.
President Lungu said Zambians should not be cheated that the energy crisis the country was currently facing was a product of the four years of the PF in Government, neither was it a creation of his one year in State House.
Speaking at the commissioning of the 120 megawatts Itezhi-Tezhi hydro power station in Itezhi-Tezhi yesterday, President Lungu said the energy challenges the country was facing had been caused by a combination of lack of investment in the sector and the vagaries of nature such as poor rainfall patterns in recent years.
The Head of State however said Zambia under his leadership was changing for the better and that those who had elected not to see and appreciate like his opponents in the opposition, he would let them not see despite being beneficiaries of the efforts of the PF government. President Lungu said he was convinced be yond doubt that Zambia was
changing as the country had in the last half a decade had become a huge construction site with unprecedented construction of roads, power stations, schools, health centres , airfields, dams and administrative offices among many other economic infrastructure developments.
President Lungu said the Itezhi-Tezhi and the Kafue Gorge Lower hydro power stations were the only investments the country has had in the last 50 years but that the PF government was committed to turn round the situation and make Zambia an energy powerhouse in the region. “I listened to Given Lubinda (Minister of Agriculture) make an important point that as PF, we shall stop talking and just point at the works of our hands. As President, I am convinced beyond doubt that Zambia is changing…changing for the good.
‘‘The energy problems we face today have been caused by a combination of lack of investment in the sector and the vagaries of nature such as poor rainfall patterns. But the responsibility to remedy the many years of neglect of the power sector is ours. We found a crippling power deficit but it remains one of our top priorities to ensure that the country has sufficient electricity,” he said.
The Head of State challenged farmers in Itezhi-Tezhi to begin thinking of diversifying from maize and cotton growing to other cash crops such as wheat and soya beans.
And speaking at the same function, Energy Minister Dora Siliya said while country had been grappling with power deficits in the past 30 years, the PF government had demonstrated that it was ready to resolve the power crisis the country was going through.
Ms. Siliya said the commissioning of various power projects across the country was testimony that government was making positive strides towards resolving the power shortage.
She said within two weeks, her ministry will be signing power purchase agreements with companies which have expressed interest in solar power generation.
And Zesco Managing Director Victor Mundende said the Itezhi Tezhi power project was the first ever Public Private Partnership in the energy sector which will add 120 megawatts of electrify generation in the country.
Mr. Mundende said 10 megawatts of power generated at the facility will be distributed within the district.