By KASONDE NKOLE
ENERGY is the backbone of economic activity the world over even as the “internet of things” sets out to claim global attention, energy is the lifeblood of an economy. It can therefore be affirmed that a stable and viable energy sector paves way to a myriad of economic activities. The Energy Regulation Board (ERB), the country’s energy regulator in line with its mission has set out a number of strategies to ensure the efficient provision of reliable and quality energy services and products.
Three years ago, the ERB opened its doors in Chinsali by establishing an office in that part of the country. The main objective for the office was to bring the regulator closer to the northern parts of the country comprising Muchinga, Northern and Luapula provinces.
In that regard, the ERB would provide regulatory oversight and ease of access to the regulator in the northern part of the country. Thus, the ERB Northern Region Office has established networks and cultivated relations with licensees and other stakeholders in the region.
This week’s issue takes readers to the northern region circuit, by highlighting regulatory interventions implemented in Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces.
Energy Consumer Outreach
The ERB’s mandate includes not only protection of consumer rights but also education of all stakeholders about their obligations in so far as use of energy products is concerned. Therefore, stakeholder engagement is one of the ERB’s key avenues through which the ERB mandate is implemented. This is done through community outreach campaigns, an important tool, to promote positive change in the energy sector.
Invariably, stakeholder engagements are intertwined with communication, which is also an important tool for reaching out to stakeholders. Given the diverse nature of its stakeholders, the ERB uses various approaches to disseminate information and create awareness.
Among the community awareness initiatives that have been conducted this year, have been engagement meetings and media campaigns with stakeholders in the region to shed light on the Fuel Marking Project which was launched on February 15, 2018 after the issuance of Statutory Instrument 69 of 2017 of the Energy Regulation Act 436 of the laws of Zambia.
The importance of Fuel Marking is that the quality of fuel consumers buy at service stations is assured; curbing fuel dumping; and increasing Government revenue that is lost through fuel dumping of undeclared products.
Another topic of interest during the sensitisation meetings was the Wiring of Premises Code of Practice ZS 791. At the meetings, Northern Region Senior Manager Nkusuwila Silomba asserted that,” such meetings enabled the ERB to appreciate concerns from its stakeholders on energy matters.
Other activities routinely undertaken in the region included inspections for licensing; environmental protection and compliance to standards among other issues.
It is worth noting that licensing is a major tool used by the ERB to safeguard the energy sector through regulation of service providers operations. Licencing provides for adherence to set technical and service standards. For purposes of licensing effectively, the ERB also collaborates with Zambia Environmental Management Agency and the local authorities on the location of proposed energy infrastructure in the Northern Region
Prospects for investment
The rising demand for energy in the region is evidenced by the increased economic activity. A bulk depot in Mansa is under construction to meet the projected demand for petroleum products in the region in addition to the TAZAMA Mpika Depot.
Still in the petroleum industry, a number of pre-burial and pre commissioning inspections have been conducted. This delivers on the appeal for more service stations in the Northern Circuit. Notably, there has been an increase in agricultural activity such as the Mansa Sugar Plantation. The Lufubu Power Project is another key project in the region. It covers Mpulungu, Nsama and Mporokoso to Kasama district. The project comprises approximately 316m and an inflow volume of approximately 1.8 billion meter cubed generating 1, 284 Gigawatt hours. Upon completion it is expected to generate about 326 megawatts which will be split in two equal phases of 163 megawatts respectively; with a 132 KiloVolt double transmission line covering 320.2 Km from Mpulungu to Kasama via Nsama, and Mporokoso districts.
It is expected that the power will be integrated into the na
Some of the issues raised included the need for improved convenience facilities at service stations, the need for more service stations in the region. It was also noted that the aviation industry was in need of supply of Jet A1 fuel. On the other hand, Mr. Silomba called on all concerned stakeholders to refrain from the practice of using unqualified technicians.
The ERB has also engaged with the media in creating awareness on developments and issues that were of public interest by translating messages into English, Bemba and Namwanga. Further, Mr. Silomba featured on Isoka FM, Tuta Radio and ZANIS News. The media campaigns were aimed at raising awareness on Fuel Marking and its benefits to the economy, discouraging the use of illegal fuel and the ERB Complaints Handling Procedure.
Other activities undertaken included participation in local activities in the area such as the Ukusefya-pa-ngwena traditional ceremony of the Bemba people. The ERB participated at this year’s ceremony which was held on August 10 and 11, 2018.
The relations established through stakeholder engagement and energy provision, promise increased economic growth.
It is indeed notable that energy is at the core of the development agenda.
The Board’s continued efforts towards dissemination of information and compliance monitoring will promote consumer rights and standards perpetuate economic growth in the region and the country as a whole.
ERB has since conducted a pre-commissioning inspection on the newly constructed service station in Luwingu.
The author is Consumer Affairs Officer based at Chinsali Office in Muchinga Province. Comments and clarifications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org