4 January 2013

Zambia: Veep Canes Energy Regulation Board

VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott yesterday lashed out at Energy Regulation Board (ERB) over its decision to construct an elaborate state-of-the-art office complex worth KR50 million (K50 billion) when Zambia's fuel prices are the highest in the region.

Dr Scott has also castigated Zambia Information and Communication Authority (ZICTA) for buying the former American Embassy building on Independence Avenue at a cost of US$5 million (KR25 million) at the expense of service delivery.

Dr Scott has since directed ERB to ensure that fuel prices in the country are reduced.

He said ERB was a key institution in the energy sector and directed that the board should explore ways of reducing fuel prices.

"ERB is a state regulator and not property developer. ERB is a very important institution but I am wondering why we have high prices of fuel in the country.

"Zambia has the highest fuel prices in the region and I think ERB should find effective ways of ensuring that fuel prices are reduced," Dr Scott said.

The Vice-President issued the directive when he inspected the ERB office complex off Alick Nkhata Road opposite Football House in Lusaka.

He was accompanied by Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Yamfwa Mukanga, Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Minister Christopher Yaluma, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Harry Kalaba and Secretary to the Cabinet Rowland Msiska.

He said ERB should be innovative and uphold its mandate of a regulator because Zambians expected better services and reasonable fuel prices.

ERB chief executive officer Butler Sitali said fuel prices in the country could only reduce if factors such as rehabilitation of TAZAMA fuel pipeline and Indeni Petroleum refinery were implemented.

He, however, assured Government that ERB would offer improved and quality services.

Earlier, Dr Scott inspected the newly-purchased ZICTA office complex, the former American Embassy at a cost of KR25 million.

The Vice-President took ZICTA management to task for engaging in property development at the expense of providing regulatory services of which it was mandated to do.

The Vice-President challenged ZICTA to be innovative and ensure that more telecommunication towers were installed in rural areas.

ZICTA director general Margaret Chalwe-Mudenda said the authority last year managed to put up about 144 communication towers and that this year more would be established.

Ms Mudenda said ZICTA would lease out part of the premises and that it would continue to facilitate universal access to information and communication technologies.

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