Mini-hydro power projects can drive economy’

THE development of mini-hydro power stations by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) are critical for power generation and needs more support from all stakeholders, according to energy expert Joel Lungu.

Mr Lungu said the REA initiative should be supported for the benefit of the country, adding that the authority had performed well in sustaining the livelihoods of rural communities.

“At least even the people in rural areas can now feel the benefit through these energy developments and there is every need to support such projects so that everyone can have access to power,” he said.

He said in view of the current power deficit and the load shedding the country was facing, the project would provide a sustainable source of electricity and stimulate socio-economic development through job creation.

Mr Lungu said there was need for concerted efforts between the private sector and the Government to develop infrastructure and invest in alternative and sustainable energy sources that would drive industrial and economic development in the country.

“Zambia is rich when it comes to natural resources and some sections of the private sector have demonstrated the capacity to generate power especially mini- hydro power stations, and now it is a matter that needs everyone’s effort to implement such projects for our benefit as a country.”

Mr Lungu said Zambia’s development and the quality of life of its people required extensive access to reliable power.

“Electricity is the backbone of any modern economy, and Zambia’s future economic prospects are closely tied to development of the energy sector because   industries from manufacturing, mining and retail services all depend on it,” he said.

Mr Lungu said this year’s power outages have already cost Zambia dearly in terms of productivity, jobs and Government revenue.

Last week Minister of Energy and Water Development Dora Siliya urged REA to begin developing mini-hydro power stations in the country where potential for power generation has been identified and studies have been conducted.

REA has identified seven sites for mini-hydro development with the highest having potential to generate up to 14 megawatts, and  feasibility studies have been conducted on 90 percent of the sites.

REA has also earmarked to develop a 590 KW Kasanjiku mini-hydro power station in Mwinilunga district in North-Western Province, under its 2014-2018 strategic plan.