PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday pressed the button to switch on the Maamba coal-fired power plant that pushed 150 megawatts of high-velocity electricity into the national grid, making Zambia almost power secure after a one-and-a-half-year deficit.
This single investment, the first of its kind in southern Africa and the only such public-private partnership in Zambia, has moved Zambia to a new level in energy self-sufficiency by creating a diversified and sustainable energy mix that will soon make Zambia a net exporter of the commodity.
No wonder President Lungu was in high spirits when he commissioned the multi-million dollar project and declared: ‘‘In my address to the nation in September 2015, I promised to transform Zambia into a net exporter of energy in 18 months. We are on course to achieve that goal.’’
Reiterating the now famous Patriotic Front ‘‘Sonta epo wabomba’’ slogan, he added: ‘‘When we say we have something to point at to justify our record, we say so with justified pride because we are delivering.’’
And digging at his opponents, he said: ‘‘Those who are promising must be told we (PF) are doing it. Zambians have every reason to trust us to do even better.’’
As he spoke, Zesco assured Zambians that the days of load shedding will soon be over as the remaining 150 megawatts will soon be uploaded on the national grid. The Maamba coal power plant is expected to produce 300 megawatts of electricity when fully operational.
With climate change having robbed Zambia of its greatest resource, water, which made the country the regional leader in hydro power, the search for alternative sources of power has become critical. The energy mix of hydro, thermal, wind and solar need to be exploited to the full to make Zambia great again.
No wonder the Government has launched a master plan to woo investors into the renewable energy industry so that the energy mix can make the country safe from unforeseen environmental emergencies that may cripple our hydro power plants.
Non-renewable sources are limited in scope, costly to source, establish and maintain and environmentally unfriendly. On the other hand renewable sources are sustainable, abundant and renewable. The sun and the wind will be there for another billion years and yet we have these great potential sources of clean energy going to waste.
The Maamba project will provide a dependable and sustainable electricity supply and significantly reduce the current energy deficit. This will enable our manufacturing industry and the mining sector to work full steam 24 hours a day, increasing production and productivity, creating new jobs and pulsating the economy.
What remains is for Zambians to agree on a cost-reflective power tariff structure that will encourage locals as well as foreigners to invest in the energy sector, knowing that their money will be recovered in the next 10 to 20 years.
The Maamba coal-fired power plant is a fine example of a profitable enterprise undertaken using public and private finance to create a high-value product that will work for the benefit of all.
As President Lungu put it yesterday, Maamba power plant is a concrete example of something we can ‘‘sontapo’’ and say ‘’we have done it’’.