Zambia – DRC power interconnection enhanced

By Nawa Mutumweno – Australian electrical and power line contactors KEC has been engaged by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) as one of the contractors to put up the over $16 million-second dual circuit power transmission line between Zambia and DRC.

Following the signing of agreements between DRC’s SNEL, and its financier, The World Bank, the construction of the second line of the 220kV interconnector is scheduled to be implemented. The project is estimated to cost $16.2 million.

CEC managing director for operations Neil Croucher disclosed that two separate tenders have been issued with one looking at the supply and transmission line while the other will address the power sub-station.

“We have signed one of the two contracts with KEC and currently design works are being done and actual construction of the Zambian  section will commence after the rainy season and we anticipate to commission  the project by end of 2011 or early 2012,” he said.

CEC has a power generation capacity of 80 MW in gas turbine alternators, transmission and distribution network of 835 kilometres of overhead power lines and 36 high voltage substations and electricity network carrying capacity in excess of 700 MW.

The company which is listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE), serves the region through the operation of an interconnector with the DRC, through which power is wheeled to Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

And the company has welcomed the removal of customs duty on imported electricity as a positive development for the country.

“It is good, especially that at some point we might experience power shortages, thus the need to

import; and cost  will be minimal as compared to the period when duty was paid. This is positive for the country, especially that power drives the economy,” Croucher elaborated.

Finance and National Planning minister Situmbeko Musokotwane announced the removal of customs duty on imported electricity during the 2011 national budget speech delivered to the National Assembly in early October 2010.

“Imported electricity attracts a customs duty of 15%. Electricity may be imported during power shortages, when ZESCO and other power utility providers import electricity to meet the shortfall but this increases the cost and may not be passed to the consumer under the current pricing system. Therefore, I propose to remove customs duty on electricity,” Dr. Situmbeko pointed out.