The potential

Energy policy in Zambia


The United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit was held in New York in September 2019. The objective was to agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the mean global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees, above pre-industrial levels. Inspired by the Swedish teenage activist, Greta Thunberg, a co-ordinated Global Climate Strike took place in 150 countries, 3 days before the Summit.

Local problem

The United Nations (UN) has estimated that Zambia has a population of 18 million people and 54% are living in rural areas. On average 72% of Zambians do not have access to any electricity. In rural areas it is 96%. Households use torches or candles for lighting, and firewood or charcoal on traditional and inefficient mbaula stoves for cooking (Energy Africa, 2018). 

Powering the nation

During the worst part of the Energy crisis, the national utility company ZESCO, imported Energy from the Southern African Power Pool and Aggreko Mozambique. The Mines were mandated to reduce their Energy consumption by 30% (Kesselring, 2017). The Government provided ZESCO with $340 million (US) to procure the Energy (World Bank, 2015).

Sustainable solution

Zambia receives 2,000 hours of sunlight per annum (SOLARGIS, 2017). In March 2019, The President of Zambia, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, commissioned Bangweulu. It is Zambia’s first utility-scale Solar Photovoltaic (PV) plant. Bangweulu cost $60 million (US) to construct and it has the potential to generate 54 Megawatts (MW) of Energy. The objective is to sell electricity to ZESCO until the year 2044, at $60.15 per Megawatt per hour (MWh).


In October 2019, the Zambian Government announced plans to import 300 Megawatts (MW) of Energy from the Republic of South Africa. The cost was estimated to be $22 million (US) per month. During the launch of Bangweulu, The President applauded the international investors for accepting the challenge to introduce Solar Energy into the national grid. His Excellency reminded ZESCO to ensure that all Districts have access to reliable Energy to facilitate Zambia’s economic development.

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