4 October 2012 – The Zambian government has signed a US$56.5 million loan agreement with the World Bank for the financing of the Kafue-Muzuma-Victoria Falls regional transmission electricity line project.

Zambia’s minister of finance Alexander Chikwanda says the project will upgrade the Kafue West-Muzuma-Livingstone 220 kV transmission line to 330 kV and connect to a new Livingstone 330/220 kV substation.The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 24 months, is expected to provide a linkage between Kafue West and the Kariba North Bank Extension.

Managing director of the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) Cyprian Chitundu says, “This will provide relief to the existing power transfer bottlenecks on the line and improve the reliability of Zesco’s regional power trade transmission network infrastructure. In addition, the project will form a vital part to the planned regional interconnection between Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.”

Chikwanda says the country’s government has prioritised infrastructure development in the energy sector to support economic growth and development. Access to electricity in Zambia has remained low at about 30% of households at national level and only about 5% in rural areas.

He says Zesco is implementing a power sector plan which includes substantial capital investments in new generation and transmission projects to ease the power deficit. Major projects expected to add to installed capacity include the 360 MW Kariba north bank extension project, the 600 MW Maamba thermal plant, the 84 MW Lusiwasi project and the 50 MW Lunzua plant. The construction of the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower and the 150 MW Itezhi-tezhi projects will be carried forward.

World Bank country director Kundhavi Kadiresan says Zambia has great potential to develop its rich resource economy further through infrastructure improvements in the energy sector.

She believes the country’s government has taken significant action to improve the performance of the energy sector and Zesco.“The strategic location of Zambia provides opportunities for regional trade in electricity. There is need to develop additional inter-connectors and to increase transfer capacity to deal with the quality of customer service in terms of reliability and security of supply.”