Zambian state electricity utility Zesco is to spend about US$3.5 billion to increase Zambia’s power generation capacity by at least 1,250 MW. This funding is being sourced from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Zambian government.

The country is currently capable of generating some 1,800 MW, this mainly provided by the Kafue Gorge (990 MW), Kariba North Bank (720 MW) and the Victoria Falls (108 MW) hydroelectric power stations. However, recently only two machines have been running at Kariba North Bank, with one unit having being withdrawn for 24 days of maintenance and another undergoing rehabilitation. This has resulted in a reduction of generation capacity by 300 MW. When units are returned to service others are expected to be withdrawn for maintenance as part of a power rehabilitation project to compensate for a maintenance backlog.

Overall Zambia is anticipating some reduction in load shedding towards the end of 2013 when the 360 MW Kariba North Bank Extension project under construction starts output. In response to the power supply crunch Zesco is setting up a team to look at demand side management, and the utility also plans to bring in 100 megawatts of emergency supply for the next one or two years.

Other projects to provide the planned increase in capacity are the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower project and the 120 MW ITT project. Taking into account that the southern African region is suffering from a power deficit Zesco is aware that it could immediately export up to 600 MW if it had the power available. Of this South African would take up 300 MW, Namibia 150 MW and the Democratic Republic of the Congo 150 MW.

Zesco is also investing in transmission side infrastructure, and the World Bank, together with the EIB, has made available about US $100 million. The loan from the European Investment Bank has been confirmed and Zesco has started the procurement process.