SEVEN energy companies have been shortlisted for the installation of solar power generation equipment in selected parts of the country to mitigate the current electricity deficit, Parliament has heard.
Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma said the successful bidder would be announced next month and the country is expected to generate the first 50 megawatts of solar power in March next year.
Mr Yaluma said this in response to MMD Lunte Member of Parliament (MP) Felix Mutati who wanted to know how favourable the country’s environment was for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to flourish.
This was shortly after Mr Yaluma delivered a ministerial statement on the current status of the country’s power situation.
“Seven reputable IPPs have been shortlisted to put up solar power stations and very soon we shall be announcing the successful bidder as we make strides in alleviating this power problem,” he said.
Mr Yaluma said the country would by early next year experience improved power supply as some major projects under construction would have been completed and added to the national electricity grid.
He named these as the 300MW Maamba Collieries thermal plant and the 120MW Itezhi Tezhi hydropower plant.
In the interim, the Government was importing 148MW from Aggreko in Angola, 100 from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM) and 150MW from the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).
The House also heard that the net worth of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) grew from K18.9 million in 2011 to K63.3 million this year following the Government’s take over from Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ).
Transport and Communications Deputy Minister James Kapyanga said at the time of the takeover, the company owed suppliers K109,370,509.
Mr Kapyanga was responding to a question by UPND Gwembe MP Brian Ntundu who wanted to know the financial status of RSZ at the time the Government took over in 2012 and how much the firm owed suppliers.
Mr Kapyanga said following the injection of fresh capital to the tune of US$120million, ZRL had increased train speed from 18km per hour to 50 kilometres over the same period.
“We have also introduced the Golden Jubilee Michael Chilufya Sata Express Train and commuter trains in Lusaka which have further eased the movement of goods and people,” he said.