Zambia: power cuts worsen with drought

Zambia: power cuts worsen with drought

For the past week, Zambians have been experiencing power supply interruptions of eight hours a day, following a government rationing decision.

This measure is due to drought caused by climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, which affects the flow of the Zambezi River and its tributaries, the main sites of hydroelectric dams in Zambia. The country's environment minister, Collins Nzovu, says the flow of the Zambezi River and Kafue River, responsible for 80% of electricity generation, is only at 30% of its usual level due to drought .

Indeed, this rationing decision disrupts daily life and the country's economy. Power cuts are mainly scheduled during the night, until 8 a.m., but their impact is considerable. The government defends these measures, saying they are necessary to ensure energy stability until the next rainy season.

This situation highlights the vulnerability of many hydropower-dependent African countries, such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, to the effects of climate change. Sebastian Sterl, an expert on clean energy in Africa, warns that the gaps between wet and dry years will widen, leading to negative consequences for electricity production.

At the heart of Zambia's electricity production is the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River. The water reserve is currently less than 15% of its normal capacity, raising concerns about long-term electricity production. The authorities are working to keep the water level above the critical threshold, but the situation remains worrying as the rainy season has not brought the expected precipitation.