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Friday, 28 May 2010

Quick notes

IPS on Chinese concerns of a western plot to undercut its expanding presence on the continent.

Global Research on the Pentagon's new "colonial" efforts to carve out Africa into military zones.

IRIN on the mobile hospitals of Swaziland, now facing cash problems.

MS Zambia on some early findings from their forthcoming report on access to justice in Zambia. The finds are as  expected.

Daily Nation on the proposed construction of a new $780 million power line linking Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya expected to be operational by 2015.


  1. I have never understood the need by Zambia to prioritize the Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya power line. I thought the problem facing Zambia was insufficient generation capacity as well as restricted access to power for the majority of Zambians as a result of the limited reach of the current Grid infrastructure. There is simply insufficient power to trade amongst these countries. We should not be in a rush to build white elephants. Let us sort out power availability first.

  2. It is quite possible in the future that Ethiopia will be a major exporter of hydroelectric power to East Africa and beyond, hence the regional power line would make sense. 400 MW (hopefully expandable) would be a substantial addition to Zambia's power supply.

  3. Kafue 001,
    Ethiopia is a country with a population of 80m and growing. The Ethiopians have commissioned a number of power plants with the help of the Chinese which has pushed their generation capacity to slightly over 2000MW. How much of this will be available for export; and for how long with such a huge population that Ethiopia has? This is just case of misplaced priorities by the Zambian government. If Zambian is going to source $380m for her section of the line; I would advise them to rethink and use it for building a power plant at either Kalungwishi or Lumange. It is just a waste of resources to build conduits for power transfers over borders when you dont even have adequate generation capacities within and across countries. No East African country can be relied upon to supply electricity to Zambia unless of course it is to supply them with Zambian electricity. ZESCO already does this with respect to Nambia which is assured of 50MW while Zambians are daily subjected to blackouts!

  4. I am a little unclear from this article how this power line will benefit Zambians. Is this supposed to help develop our national grid, or is this just another mechanism for us to export power to others while sitting at home in darkness?

  5. Frank,

    Ethiopia has already signed power export agreements with Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti. So they probably expect to export power until domestic demand catches up with their 45,000 MW power potential.

    Kalungwishi will be developed by the private sector Lunzua Power Authority:

    Interesting information on potential large dam sites for Zambia (Batoka Gorge, Devil's Gorge and Mpata Gorge are the largest):

    Miss Bwalya,

    The power line could be used to either import or export power depending on the power availability. Also it is useful as a backup power source if there is a breakdown in a local generating facility.

  6. All,

    This issue has been much discussed in the past on this website.

    My position is similar to Frank. It is also confirmed by this latest short paper.

    If we consider that the sector comprises of three problems GENERATION, TRANSMISSION and DISTRIBUTION. Our present challenge is generation. The power line would not solve this problem. This is why the focus is on the Kafue Lower Gorge with its Chinese debt. That will take 6 years at most.

    We await the brains tasked with reporting on how ZESCO will be "unbundled".

    As an aside this all discussion illustrates the basic problem - we have no energy policy at least not one consulted on and which the public has bought! Its all on auto-pilot or perhaps driven by COMESA, World Bank, SAPP and the Chinese?

  7. In general, I would say that it is advisable to be able to access power from other grids in the event of accidents or other reasons such as local drought effect on hydroelectric dams. The effect on the African continent of the proposed Grand Inga dam on the Congo river illustrates such a situation:

  8. The other point is that in a post "unbundled" world, the incentive for private players to enter the generating new power business would be greater if they are able to seek greater margins than at present. As that paper suggests the reason no one has rushed to develop all these areas with huge potential is that they would not necessarily get good price because of ERB and ZESCO.

    A power line could potentially provide significant incentive for exports and therefore generating greater investments.

    The problem with that argument is that it means these investments would essentially be for people outside, which is not what Zambians want to hear.

    The other difficulty of course is that if ZESCO is indeed being unbundled, why start these projects with unknown owners?

  9. By the way we have previously touched on the The Grand Inga here


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