The efforts by the Zambia electricity supply corporation to reduce power outages and their impact in Lusaka’s high density areas.

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Pambwe, Blessing Kaela
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The University of Zambia
Energy is said to be the engine of the economy globally. This is because critical social and economic services such as health, education, transport and commerce, among others cannot be efficiently and effectively provided in the absence of reliable and affordable energy services. However, in Zambia access to electricity in urban areas stands at 67.3% while in rural areas it is at 4.4% translating into 31.4% at the national level. The few who have access to electricity are also subjected to load shedding and notorious power outages. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effort by the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) to reduce power outages and their impacts in Lusaka’s High Density Areas. The research used a mixed method approach, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. A sample of 196 was engaged, comprising 190 respondents and six (6) key informants. A questionnaire, observation and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. The data was analyzed using SPSS, Microsoft Excel and content analysis. The finding indicates that ZESCO was making a lot of effort to reduce power outages in Lusaka’s High Density Areas. ZESCO was building more power stations in different parts of the country. These include the Kariba North power station and the Musonda falls power station among others. The company was also undertaking system re-enforcements by putting more transformers closer to the load centers. This involves identifying an area where they can put up another transformer in order to offload the existing customers to the new transformers. This eventually leads to load balancing. The study also showed that in order to ensure that the country’s generation capacity matches the ever increasing load demand, ZESCO had engaged various stakeholders such as Maamba collieries, Ndola energy and Bangweulu solar company to produce power and sell to ZESCO under the Bulk power purchase Agreement. This power is then fed into the national grid for transmission to consumers. The study also demonstrated that ZESCO had made some stride to reduce dependence on hydro power sources by building a 50MW solar power plant at the Lusaka Multi Facility Economic Zone while the Japanese were putting up a 300MW solar power plant in Mpika and Copperbelt province. In terms of the impact of the efforts by ZESCO in reducing power outages in Lusaka’s high density areas, the study found that the efforts by ZESCO impacted positively on the social and economic life of the people in high density areas. Power outages which were lasting up to 16 hours had significantly reduced to less than 2 hours per day while in some areas it was almost non- existent. People were now able to use electrical equipment like radios, television, fridges and stoves. The study also demonstrated that due to the efforts by ZESCO to reduce power outages, cases of houses getting burnt due to the frequent use of candles had also reduced. In addition, reduction in power outages also contributed to reduced criminal cases such as fighting, murder, stealing and rape cases which frequently took place especially at night. The other impact of the efforts by ZESCO to reduce power outages in the two areas is that it stimulated self-employment and increased productivity of home business through higher revenues of existing businesses and the creation of new ones. Furthermore, firms could no longer incur costs of raw materials that go to waste and damage to equipment resulting from sudden power outages. In the long run the number of workers deemed redundant was reduced as firms operated at full capacity. In the education sector, reduction in power outages resulted in increased education possibilities as school going children, especially those in examination classes, were now able to study either at their homes or their nearby schools during night times while in the health sector Service delivery to the people improved as hospitals and clinics were able to continue with their operations during the night.
Thesis of Master of Public Administration (MPA).