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High electricity connection fees will encourage deforestation-Expert

An energy expert has charged that the decision by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to revise upwards the ZESCO connection fees will affect the efforts that have so far been recorded with regards to enhancing afforestation in the country.

Bornface Zulu has observed that this is because the increase will discourage many people from getting connected to the national electricity grid but will instead resort to using charcoal as the main source of energy.

Mr. Zulu explained to ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka that increasing the connection fee will mean that less people will have access to electricity in a timely manner as most people will not be able to raise money for connection thereby forcing them to use charcoal and firewood.

He said this will also slow down the efforts which the government has put up for achieving universal access to electricity for all Zambians by 2030.

“This decision will make people not be attracted to connect to the nation grid due to over priced connection fees and this decision also has negative effects on the efforts being made to reduce carbon emissions as well as our carbon storage is affected because less people will be connected to the grid and more people will continue cutting down trees as a source of energy,” he added.

He said there is need for the country to put in place a proper response to energy challenges.

Currently, Zambia’s deforestation rate stands at approximately 300,000 hectares per year, which is expected to grow by 25 percent in the next five years.

The ERB has approved the application by ZESCO to revise upwards the electricity connection charges.