Zambia intends to triple its power production to reach 6,000MW within two years through expansion of solar power plants with foreign investments.
The country, which is the second-largest copper producer in Africa, has been badly hit by irregular power supplies, which has affected mining. The majority of its 2,200MW power generation capacity comes from hydro projects, reported Reuters.
As a result of the power scarcity and a dip in copper prices due to a slowdown of China’s economy, its largest consumer, the Zambian currency fell to a record low.
Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) director general Patrick Chisanga told Reuters that the government had held ‘very positive’ talks with an unnamed German company, which intends to invest $500m in a solar power plant at an undisclosed location.
"It is planned that they could produce about 400MW of power in two steps.
"This is still at discussion stage but the investor is very keen and we envisage that early in the first quarter of next year we should see some serious development on the ground."
A group of Italian investors are planning to set up a solar facility in the Lusaka South. A few other investors plan to invest in power plants in the western and north-western provinces.
"The proposals they put on the table suggest to me that these are very serious investors and they have the capability, as well as the financial capacity to invest," Chisanga added.
Power production at Kariba power stations fell due to low rainfall in the earlier season, compelling Zambia to resort to load shedding.
"This has been a wake up call for us. It has taught us that we need to diversify our sources of energy instead of relying on hydro, which in turn relies on a good rainfall every year," he said.
Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote also intends to open power plants in Zambia in order to cater to his cement plant, as well supply surplus to the national grid.