On Tuesday, Zambia’s state-owned power company Zesco, announced that China’s Sinohydro will commence construction of a 750MW hydropower plant in Zambia in December.
This development comes at a time when the continent’s second largest copper producer is battling with production due to a deficit in power supply, Reuters reported.
Zambia power deficit
In August, Zambian power providers and local mining companies agreed to cut power supply to local mines by 30% due to the country’s power deficit.
The sector would be supplied with 70% local power generation and 30% imported back-up power at a higher cost.
The drop in power supply could cause the copper industry’s production to drop below 700,000 metric tonnes, this is according to Robert Liebenthal, a Lusaka-based independent economist.
Hydro: Chinese players
A Zesco spokeswoman, Bessie Banda, told Reuters that Sinohydro will construct the Kafue Gorge Lower Power station at an estimated cost of $2 billion over an estimated period of four years.
Banda said: “We should be handing over the project site to Sinohydro in November and expect them to start work a month later.”
She added that the Kafue Gorge Lower Development Corporation, a special purpose vehicle, will loan 85% of the financing for the project from Exim Bank of China. The Zambian government would finance the remaining 15% as equity.
In other Zambian news, despite the country’s current power shortage, Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, said that the country plans to become a net exporter of power within the next year.
Lungu added that the government will continue to invest in the energy sector and stimulate private investment to help resolve the country’s energy deficit.
Reuters reported that, investment in energy and infrastructure that encouraged growth would benefit Zambia, and the country did not risk falling into a debt trap.
In August, the Zambian minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma said that the country expects to add 1,200MW of solar power to the national grid by August 2016, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.