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Energy Sector


Zambia’s electricity sector is largely dependent on hydropower. As a result of erratic rains, declining water levels in Kariba Dam and increased electricity demand, the country has experienced a severe electricity supply deficit since approximately June 2015. Output for the sector is estimated at less than one third of installed capacity. Load shedding has led to increased costs of living.

Electricity Demand & Electrification Rates

Approximately 70% of the country’s electricity demand is driven by its mining sector, which benefits from highly subsidized electricity rates. Peak demand has been recorded at 1,960 MW. Growth in electricity demand has been estimated at between 150 MW and 200 MW per year.


Electricity Consumption in 2014


Economic Sector GWh
Industry 6,429
Transport 31
Residential 3,251
Commercial and Public Services 668
Agriculture / Forestry 241
Fishing 0
Other non-specified 99
Final Electricity Consumption 10,719

Source: IEA


Access to electricity in Zambia is estimated at 28% of the total population, comprising approximately 62% of the urban population and 5% of the rural population. Approximately 500,000 urban households and 1.8 million rural households currently do not have access to electricity. The Government of Zambia maintains an official target of achieving 51% rural electricity access by 2030.

Electricity generation

Zambia’s electricity mix is dominated by hydro generation. Large and mini-hydro stations account for 95% of installed capacity. Droughts caused the country’s power shortage to widen to half of peak demand, or approximately 1 GW in 2015. Approximately 4% of the country’s generation mix is provided by fossil fuels, including diesel-based mini-grids operated by ZESCO, the Ndola Energy Heavy Fuel Oil Plant (50MW), and six gas turbines (80MW) owned and operated by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation.
Zambia’s Electricity Company, ZESCO, a state-owned entity, owns the bulk of generation stations. ZESCO is a vertically integrated company, with its largest customer being the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC); a privately-held company that organizes the electricity distribution to copper mines. CEC purchases more than 50% of all generated electricity on the basis of a long-standing contract with fixed prices, in addition to its own generation.
Due to currently heavily subsidized electricity tariffs, prospects for bringing new capacity online are hindered, as ZESCO is limited in its ability to sign commercially viable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Despite this, the country has indicated plans to increase capacity by 2 GW in 2016 and 2017 and has indicated intentions to move to cost reflective tariffs in 2017, in line with the regional SADC targets. Several energy development opportunities are underway in hydro, geothermal, coal, and solar PV. The first coal power generation has been included in the energy mix in 2016 from the phased 300MW coal fired power project by Maamba Collieries. The IFC’s “Scaling Solar” initiative intends to support up to 300MW of solar in Zambia, in collaboration with the Zambia Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), in addition to a planned 50MW to be supported by KfW’s GetFiT programme.


Installed Generation Capacity (MW)


Power Station Owner Installed Capacity (MW)
Kafue Gorge ZESCO 990
Kariba North Bank ZESCO 1,050
Itezhi-Tezhi ZESCO 120
Victoria Falls ZESCO 108
Lunzua ZESCO 14.8
Lusiwasi ZESCO 12
Chisimba Falls ZESCO 6
Musonda Falls ZESCO 5
Shiwa Ng’andu ZESCO 1
Lunsemfwa Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Ltd. 31
Mulungushi Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Ltd. 25
Zengamina Charles Rea 0.7
Gas Turbine (Standby) CEC 80
Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Ndola Energy 50
TOTAL   2,493.5

Transmission and Distribution

The Zambian power grid is based on five voltage levels: 330 kV (2,241 km), 220 kV (571 km), 132 kV (202 km), 88 kV (734 km) and 66 kV (1,037 km). A challenge in electrification of rural areas is the very low population densities, even within villages.


Transmission and Distribution Network in Zambia

Source: IRENA


Electricity Tariffs

Electricity tariffs in Zambia have historically been heavily subsidized, leading to a challenging commercial environment for private developers, as well as for ZESCO. Efforts to raise tariffs to cost reflective levels are ongoing, in line with the objective of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to achieve cost reflective electricity prices by 2019, and an increase in electricity prices is expected in the short term.


Current Electricity Tariff Schedule (2016)


  Maximum Demand Charge/Month (ZMW)  Fixed Monthly Charge (ZMW) Energy charge/kWh (ZMW)
Consumption up to 100kWh 18.23 0.15
Consumption above 101 to 300kWh 18.23 0.31
Consumption above 301 kWh 18.23 0.51
Prepaid 18.23 0.35
2. COMMERCIAL (Capacity 15kVA) 55.09 0.31
Schools, Hospitals, Orphanages, Churches, Water pumping, Street Lighting 47.91 0.28
Capacity between 16 – 300kVA 13.97 136.82 0.20
Capacity between 301-2,000kVA 26.13 273.62 0.17
Capacity between 2,001-7,500kVA 41.75 579.74 0.14
Capacity 7,500 kVA – 10,000kVA 41.98 1,159.50 0.12

*Exclusive of 3% excise duty and 16% Value Added Tax (VAT).

Source: Worldbank


Off-Grid Electrification

Off-grid electrification initiatives in Zambia are scarce but emerging. ZESCO operates several diesel-based mini-grids, with emerging public (Rural Electrification Authority – REA) and private activity in solar PV- and hydro-based mini-grids. There is at least one operational provider of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) household solar solutions, and solar lanterns are widely available. In 2016, SIDA launched the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia to accelerate off-grid market development, providing support to five existing market actors and introducing several regional market leaders to the country, in an effort to electrify one million Zambians.

Key figures

Available statistics:
Official language
Population (2016 est.)
Population growth (2016 est.), %
Median age (2016 est.), years
Urbanization rate (2010 - 2016), % p.a.
Urban population (2015), % of total
Rural population (2015), % of total
Population density (2015), per km2
HDI (2014)
139 of 188
National Currency
Kwacha, ZMW
GDP (2015), USD million current
GDP growth (2015), %
GDP annual growth rate forecast (2020), %
GNI per capita (2015), current int’l USD
Inflation (2016), %
Inflation Rate Forecast (2020), %
Foreign Direct Investment, net inflows (2015), BOP current USD billions
Net official development assistance (2014), current USD millions
Budget deficit (2016), % of GDP
Ease of Doing Business (2016), rank of 190
TI Corruption Index (2016), rank of 168
Installed Generation Capacity (2016), MW
Installed Fossil Fuel Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
Hydro Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
Other RE Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
Renewable electricity output as % of total electricity output excl. hydro (2016)
Avg. distribution and transmission losses as % of output (2013)
Net electricity imports (2014), kWh
13 million
Electrification rate, total (2016) %
Electrification rate, urban (2016) %
Electrification rate, rural (2016) %
Peak demand (2015), MW
Nearly 3,000
Per capita electricity consumption (2013), kWh
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