Home Economy Zambia struggles with power shortages as dam levels shrink

Zambia struggles with power shortages as dam levels shrink


While the Southern part of Africa is hit by the draught, the hydroelectric dam of Kariba is running out of water leaving Zimbabwe and Zambia without main source of energy.

In Zambia 19-hour power cuts have put the nation in darkness, crippling daily life and business operations with the worst power crisis the country has faced.

According to the country’s Energy minister Matthew, “Water levels in the dam continued receding, dropping to 476.93 metres above sea level as at 10 December 2019”.

At this point of time, the water level in the Kariba dam is at 1.48 metres above the minimum operating level, which means the lake has only 10% usable water for power generation.

“At a similar period in 2018 the water level in the dam… was at 55 percent,” Nkhuwa noted.

Zambians are facing 19 hours of power cuts every day but sometimes they stay without power for even longer, which provokes anger among the population.

Some residents of Lusaka’s Chaisa and Chilenje areas have organised protests against prolonged blackouts, stoning power installations as well as ZESCO officers.

“These long hours of staying without power have really made us suffer,” local barber shop owner John Likumbi said.

In November, state power operator ZESCO started receiving power from South African Eskom to reduce the impact of the power deficit on the country’s economy.

However, the imported power has only managed to give electricity for two additional hours.

ZESCO board chairperson Mbita Chitala admitted that despite buying power from Eskom, the power operator still faced challenges in “importing the full 300 megawatt from time to time.”

Eskom is struggling with its own challenges as old and poorly maintained coal-fired power stations are failing to provide all the necessary power for South Africa.

Opposition leader Chishimba Kambwili blamed the power cuts on the “total failure by this government.”

The energy minister stated that he was afraid if the rainfall did not improve the situation for Zambia, the things might worsen.


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