Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc:
Shaping the Future of Zambia’s Energy
As Zambia’s industrial development accelerates, meeting the energy demand remains critical. According to data from the International Trade Administration, Zambia only has 31% electricity access; within this percentage, 67% is accessible to the urban populace, while a mere 4% reaches rural communities. This demand is set to surge at an estimated annual rate of 3%.
Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, behind the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The mining industry dominates 12% of Zambia’s GDP and contributes over 70% to foreign export earnings. Zambia has an ambitious target to increase copper mining production from 800,000 tonnes to 3 million tonnes by 2031, which naturally translates to increased energy consumption in the mining sector.
Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), a proudly Zambian utility, stands as a partner that sustains the mining industry’s electricity needs. Established in 1952 as Northern Rhodesia Power Corporation, the first power utility in pre-independence Zambia, CEC has a 70-year legacy of supplying energy to mines in Zambia and, in the recent past, the DRC. The company has navigated nationalisation and privatisation and is the first power company to list on the Lusaka Securities Exchange.
CEC is a Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) member comprising 17 utilities from 12 member countries in the SADC region. The SAPP was established to create a fully integrated, competitive energy market and deliver sustainable energy solutions across the SADC region and beyond. This collaboration facilitates electricity trading and power pooling by member utilities.
Today, CEC is a leading diversified energy company with infrastructure critical to Zambia’s energy mix. The company operates an extensive network spanning 1700 km of transmission and optic fibre lines, a 34 MW solar plant, and an 80 MW thermal generating plant – the oldest in the country. It has expanded to amass over 40 substations in the Copperbelt, with a sophisticated control centre to match. In August 2023, CEC became the first locally listed company to achieve a market capitalisation of K10 billion.
A Pivotal Team Player
CEC is a model of how Public-Private Partnerships can grow industry in Zambia. This is exemplified by the 30% stake owned by the Government of Zambia and CEC’s collaborative partnership with Zambia’s national utility, which facilitates domestic and commercial electricity distribution on the Copperbelt.
Investing in a Greener Zambia
CEC is committed to leading the way in greening Zambia’s energy sector and fostering efficient energy solutions. This is exemplified by the recent inauguration of the 34 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Riverside, Kitwe, a welcome addition to Zambia’s clean energy pool. The $22M project has a capacity equivalent to an approximate supply of 10,000 houses, consuming an average of 15 units per day.
While CEC’s vision includes expanding capacity to 300 MW with projects that include a 64 MW solar plant in Kitwe’s Garneton area and a 138 MW wind initiative under consideration in Masaiti, the benefits of the PV plant extend beyond increasing mega-wattage to the national grid; investing in a PV plant is a crucial step towards fulfilling CEC’s sustainability ambitions to offset carbon emissions. Since the commissioning of the 34 MW solar plant, CEC has successfully offset a staggering 14,440.86 tonnes of carbon emissions. As a sustainably responsible entity, CEC plans to plant 1,000,000 trees by 2025 to replenish diminishing forestry and maintain water sources. This initiative will offset over 5000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
Giving Back to Mother Zambia
CEC upholds an unwavering commitment to the communities it serves. As a prominent corporate entity on the Copperbelt, it takes responsibility for the province’s well-being. Over the decades, CEC has made significant investments in local communities. During its 34 MW PV plant construction, CEC partnered with Copperbelt University, offering electrical engineering students hands-on experience at a real-life solar plant construction site, imparting skills for their future careers. CEC has further invested in constructing schools, clinics, and hospitals and is establishing a brand new, fully equipped paediatric ICU at Kitwe Teaching Hospital.
Furthermore, the company has participated in community development projects that include repairing road signage, providing waste bins and installing solar streetlights in Kitwe. One of CEC’s pillars of social responsibility includes endorsing sports, and it is the sole sponsor of Power Dynamos Football Club, the seven-time Zambia Premier League winners and defending champions.
The Future is Bright
Looking to the future, CEC remains steadfast in its commitment to powering industry in Zambia and the DRC, investing in and utilising cutting-edge transmission technology as interconnectors between the two nations. CEC consistently adopts innovative technologies and partners with both countries through its power infrastructure investment to ensure efficient delivery and uninterrupted service to its business partners.
The Copperbelt Energy Corporation is a Zambian enterprise that has navigated various transitions over seven decades. Today, the majority of the company’s shares are held by Zambian stakeholders, and it consistently ranks among the top performers on the Lusaka Stock Exchange. With CEC as an integral part of Zambia’s energy ecosystem, the future shines figuratively and literally.