Zambia’s electricity deficit has risen to 985 megawatts (MW) in September from 560 MW in March as water levels in reservoirs at its hydropower station fall due to drought, its energy minister said on Tuesday.
In a statement to parliament, energy Minister Christopher Yaluma said the government was taking short and long-term measures to address the crunch, including importing electricity and construction of new power stations.
The electricity shortages in Africa’s no. 2 copper producer have hit output from mining companies, already grappling with a slide in global prices for the commodity.
Zambia’s power generation capacity stands at 2,200 megawatts (MW), with the bulk of the electricity produced from hydropower, but supply is often erratic. Zambia’s output fell to 1,900 MW in March due to low water levels in dams.
The commissioning of the first power generation unit at the coal-fired Maamba power station would add 150 MW to the national grid by the end of November and an additional 150 MW in the first quarter of 2016, Yaluma said.
“We expect the situation to improve once we start receiving power from Maamba power station and later from Itezhi-tezhi where we expect to get 120 MW in the next few months,” he said. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Dominic Evans)