Zambia power utility's tariff increase plans face resistance
LUSAKA - Stakeholders on Monday rejected plans by Zambia's power utility to increase tariffs, saying it will worsen the cost of doing business.
Last week, the country's energy regulator, the Energy Regulation Board (ERB), announced that it will hold public hearings after it received an application from the power utility to increase electricity tariffs by an average of 113 percent.
However, the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) and the Consumer Unit and Trust Society (CUTS) said in a statement that it has advised that the proposed tariff increase will have a negative effect on consumers and manufacturers.
Chipego Zulu, vice-president south of the manufacturers' body, said increasing tariffs was not going to help address electricity challenges.
Speaking at a joint briefing, she said there was need to undertake the cost of electricity study before increasing the tariffs. She further said that there was need to take a holistic approach to the electricity challenge the country was facing.
According to her, the proposed tariff increment will be difficult for manufacturers as it will disturb their programs.
Chenai Mukumba, CUTS coordinator said the move will increase the already high poverty levels in the country.
She said at the same briefing that consumers are already burdened with the previous electricity tariff hike and that effecting another hike will worsen the situation.
In September, Zambia had been in talks with state-owned power utility Eskom to import 300 megawatts of electricity, Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa said adding that retail prices could double once imports begin.
Zambia has a power deficit of more than 750MW because of low water levels at hydropower dams, Nkhuwa told reporters on the sidelines of an energy meeting. He gave no timeframe for when imports could start.