Zambia has been hit by an energy crisis that is threatening economic activities, about two months after the southern African state donated five million litres of fuel to its eastern neighbour, Malawi.
Over the past week, Africa’s top copper miner has been failing to meet increasing demand for both fuel and electricity, which has resulted in some industries and mines to down scale their daily production.
Experts warn that if central government delays to take action, the energy crisis might spiral into an economic disaster for the mineral rich African state.
“There is no fuel at many gas stations not only in Lusaka… Zesco [power utility firm] has also increased their load shedding even when it is cold season [winter],” said Paxina Ngazimbi, a Lusaka resident.
Authorities have blamed the on-going fuel shortage to a burst on an interlink pipeline which feeds Zambia with crude oil from a port in Tanzania, while persistent electricity rationing is reported to have been sparked by increased domestic usage as more people attempt to fight the chilly weather this winter.
Peak power demand when Zambian consumers switch on their heaters outstrips the 1 800MW it currently generates, although Zambia expects to have a surplus of 600MW by 2016, the nation’s utility firm said at the onset of the latest power rationing circle.
An increase in electricity generation will allow Zambia to supply excess to countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana which also experience electricity shortfalls during peak periods.