Thursday, August 16, 2007
By NANCY MWAPE
A World Bank team from Washington DC is in the country to review Zambia’s performance in the energy sector. Speaking in Lusaka in an interview, outgoing World Bank country manager, Ohene Nyanin said among the issues the team would look at is to reach an understand with Government when Zesco’s commercialization programme could be finalised. Dr Nyanin said the World Bank team had finalised its work on Zesco’s commercialization but the final discussion with Government had not yet taken place.
He said when Government embarked on privatization exercise, it was agreed that Zesco be privatized through having private sector participation in the utility firm. He added that the objective were to enable Zesco improve its performance by seeking private sector participation. Dr Nyanin said in 2003, Government approached the Bank with a road map on commercialization programme that the two agreed to be implemented in three phases.
The commercialisation exercise started with entry point in 2003, followed by an interim evaluation that had to be completed this year.
“If we had continued with privatization programme, we would have created a bigger monopoly in Southern Africa, if Eskom come in to buy Zesco,’’ he said.
Dr Nyanin added that Government had met much of the benchmarks agreed with the Bank like payments of electricity bills and governance issues concerning the Zesco board.
Other benchmarks included amending the electricity Act, Energy Regulation Board (ERB) Act and strengthening the boards for Zesco and ERB.
Last month Zesco managing director, Rodnie Sisala confidently said commercialisation results to be presented to Government would be positive considering the various projects the utility firm had undertaken.
During the last quarter of 2006, a World Bank team was in the country and made some assessment on Zesco that would make its findings known to Government during this visit.
Mr Sisala described the commercialization exercise as being successful, although it is an on going journey.
He added that with the on going power rehabilitation exercise, management had revamped Zesco’s infrastructure and upgraded the generators to meet increasing power demand.