This warning has come from the Minister of Energy, Honourable Matthew Nkhuwa, who told Parliament on Tuesday that water levels at Kariba dam have reached a critical stage, from a high of 13.5 metres to an all time low of only 2.5 metres remaining. According to Honourable Nkhuwa, the Dam is designed to generate electricity when it’s only up to 2 metres and above. Therefore, once the point five gets depleted (which is anytime soon), then Kariba has to be shut down until water levels improve. This must make all of us concerned.
The past few months have, without doubt, seen us in a very challenging situation regarding electricity. Almost every Zambian has not been spared by the extended hours of load shedding which have disturbed business and social lives to an inexplicable extent. Why is this so? Definitely, climate change is having a heavy toll on us, and these effects have come at a time we least expected. The sudden changes in the weather, coupled with the fast depleting water levels in Kariba, are a clear sign that what we are seeing coming out of Zesco has got everything to do with climate changes, whose devastating effects are there for all to see.
What must we do then? We must know by now that Zesco Limited, our power utility, is doing everything humanly possible to provide every Zambian on the national grid adequate power to run business operations and daily needs in our households. However, we have been told that usage of this limited electricity, in some areas, is not so pleasing such that load management in such instances exceeds what one would consider reasonable. Most of us are not putting into practice useful tips such as “switch and save” to store every little kilowatt we can when we do not need to use that electricity. Therefore, it is not a deliberate ploy that Zesco is load shedding us for that many hours – that has to be done because if Zesco disregards the load management schedule and goes beyond what is recommended at the current water levels, the entire country will be plunged into total darkness. That would be a complete disaster!
We have the power in our hands as Zambian citizens; we can help to minimize this challenge on Zesco’s head at the moment by ensuring that we save as much electricity as possible by switching off lights whenever not needed, using energy saving bulbs that are more efficient than conventional bulbs and more importantly, efficient use of electricals such as stoves, pressing irons, geysers, etc. Practicing this will tremendously reduce the load on the national electricity grid and help Zesco and ourselves save the power we badly need for our businesses, households and other ventures.
With the onset of the rainy season, the Kariba will, as forecast, by December, replenish and power generation will return to normal. But this should not make us discard the good practices we need to adopt to save power.