Zambia cuts power supply to 12 hours daily

Zambia has cut an additional four hours of power supply to nationwide consumers, leaving them with only 12 hours each day, with officials citing a drop in dam water levels as the primary reason.

The critical energy-hungry landlocked southern African nation is the continent’s second-largest copper producer but has been severely impacted by a drought caused by the El Nino weather pattern, affecting most parts of the country.

Energy Minister Peter Kapala said in a statement issued on Friday that the national company Zesco increased the “load shedding” hours from eight to 12, staggered in six-hour periods each day, to ensure electricity supply until the end of the year.

Kapala said the water available for electricity generation at the Kariba Dam was 39% as of May 14. It is currently generating 166 megawatts of power, less than its 1,080-megawatt capacity.

He said the nation has begun importing 188 megawatts to close the shortfall.

“In addition to that, Zesco Limited has clawed back power from export contracts to a total of 160 megawatts. Notable steps are those taken by customers such as First Quantum Minerals to import power, a move that will ease pressure on the grid,” he added.

President Hakainde Hichilema has also directed that all government institutions begin shifting to solar energy to relieve pressure on the national grid.

Zambia’s primary source of power generation is hydropower, which accounts for 85% of the total installed capacity of 3,777 megawatts.

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