As I write this blog, we are adapting to new changes in our life here in Zambia.
The country is in the middle of a crippling electricity crisis as the country grapples with a massive power deficit, a situation likely to only get worse as demand for electricity grows annually.
ZESCO (the national electricity provider) has embarked on a countrywide power rationing mechanism in order to preserve the limited water available for power generation until the next rainy season. The shortage of electricity has been building for some time but has become more pronounced with reduced water levels at Kariba North Bank Power Station, Kafue Gorge Power Station and Victoria Falls Power Station.
We are being told to brace ourselves for a total blackout by November 2015 if nothing is done about the low water levels at Kariba Dam and its crumbling walls.
Load shedding has become our new norm.
As this power crisis unfolds, the money problems for Zambia get worse. The kwacha is devastated by an almost 50% drop in value to the British pound. Electricity is the lifeblood of the economy. So the impact on business operations and agriculture has been huge. Water is being rationed and copper mining companies are being affected. People are losing jobs and mines are expected to shut down if the situation deteriorates further.
People are looking into alternative sources of energy such as generators, gas and solar. However, for the average Zambian and small scale entrepreneurial business owners, these sources are unaffordable.
Sadly, the impact on the materially poor is huge. There is an increase in prices on both basic food items and essential non food items. Equally there is an environmental disaster as more trees are being cut down to provide more charcoal so people can cook.
There are a proposed number of projects aimed to address Zambia’s power deficit but many are in their early stages and there is currently no funding available.
So how does it affect us at Tehila? Every day we have no power from 6am to 4pm. At times this is frustrating but it has not impacted us hugely. We tend to charge our phones and laptops at night so we can run off batteries. It gets annoying when we forget! Then we find ourselves driving round lusaka to locate a cafe or area where we can re-charge!!
But generally we are adapting fine to a limited internet connection and rationed water, cooking with charcoal and being careful not to buy diary food and meat as we cannot keep it cold! We are fortunate to be able to explore alternative ideas and sources. It is the people who rely on power for their livlihoods that I really feel for and who cannot afford to purchase another energy source. It is devastating for them.
So we would appreciate your prayers for Zambia. It is a troubled nation at the moment and we pray for ongoing peace and wisdom for the leaders as they make decisions on how to move forward.