SOLAR ENERGY ONLY WAY FORWARD

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FOR Zambia’s development blueprint to achieve the desired social and economic affluence, it must enhance access to cheaper and steadfast sources of energy.

It is indeed time for Zambia to begin thinking outside the box and turn to free and infinite sun for solar technology.

This unassuming technology involves photovoltaic panels which convert the sun’s radiation directly into electricity with no pollution or damage to the environment.

It is believed that such panels can generate enough power to run stoves, pump water, light clinics and power television sets and the list is endless.

And to think that Africa has one of the best climates for this type of energy, the delay by Zambia to turn to this source of energy must be disgusting many.

Already, Zambia’s main of source of hydropower, Lake Kariba, is failing the nation because its water has fallen to exceedingly low levels thus threatening power generation.

This has pressed Zesco Limited to introduce the unpopular load shedding which is already causing clamours, rather than solely depending on electricity for their production and livelihood.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) which are the engine of our economy have already raised red flags and are blue murder over power outages which they think will immensely affect their production.

The Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) fears the MSMEs will be the worst hit by the planned load shedding because they are highly dependent on a steady supply of electricity.

This is a wretched development, which even if the nation has no control over, should also appreciate that even the great US is driven by SMEs which truly form the engine of Washington’s economy.

CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo is wholly in order to express his concerns over the development which will no doubt adversely affect the economic growth of Zambia.

“An immediate consequence of this will be a reduction in productivity in these businesses, which will further result in even slower economic growth of the country, given the significant role played by small-scale businesses in job creation and income generation,” says Mr Mwaipopo.

So, the news about a group of companies from India’s GOA State, AGRAWAL, planning to build a 100MW capacity solar panel manufacturing facility in Zambia should be the starting point for Zambia to move into serious solar power generation investment.

Group chairman Krishnakumar Agrawal says the project which will cost US$5 million in private capital investment will also result in job creation as well as satisfy the market.

Mr Agrawal says apart from the project there will also be a skills transfer to the Zambian populace, especially youths.

He says the company has special skills in executing off-grid and on-grid projects for open access markets while the rest of the solar energy could be sold to Government in addition to large-scale solar pumps.

This came to light when Zambia’s High Commissioner to India Judith Kapijimpanga toured the solar manufacturing company in the Indian State of GOA, 2,000 kilometres from the Indian capital, New Delhi.

In fact Zesco Limited, too, should start thinking that way and begin to earnestly invest in solar power in the event the drought situation worsens as indicators are already pointing towards that direction.

It may wake up one day to find all the water bodies, including Lake Kariba dry and that will be the end of Zesco Limited, for acting too late to situations needing urgent devotion.

For now let us forget about this hydro-power and quickly move to solar, which will never fail us.

Indeed, a stitch in time saves nine later.

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