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Company driven to help meet Zambia’s energy efficiency goals

FRANCIS MUSABA The Zambian government is supporting any industry that implements effective energy management and savings and is penalising those which do not

PRIME MOVER SEW-EURODRIVE is working towards increasing its footprint by becoming the preferred supplier of prime movers to the Zambian mining industry

19th May 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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Drive technology specialist SEW-EURODRIVE is helping industry implement energy efficient systems in line with Zambia’s Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan (EESAP), says SEW-EURODRIVE business development representative in Zambia Francis Musaba, a certified energy auditor.

The plan was published last year to support systematic implementation of various energy efficiency measures which were previously undertaken in an ad hoc manner. Interventions included the banning of incandescent lamps, undertaking free energy audits in industries, and introducing power factor surcharges and energy efficiency awareness campaigns.

The importance of energy efficiency was highlighted in January, when Zambia started rationing electricity supply to mining firms. Zambia started rationing electricity supply to its domestic consumers in December last year, owing to the significant drop in Lake Kariba’s water levels, which hindered the country’s hydropower production. Hydropower contributes 85% of Zambia's power generation, according to the International Trade Organisation.

National power utility Zesco announced the end of loadshedding in February, as rising water levels in Lake Kariba increased power generation output.

“The government is supporting any industry that implements effective energy management and savings and is penalising those which don’t,” highlights Musaba.

In September last year, Zesco informed its maximum demand customers that, as of October 1, 2022, their monthly electricity bills would include a low power factor surcharge in addition to the usual capacity, energy and fixed charges. The surcharge applies to customers drawing 100 kVA and operating at a power factor lower than the 0.92 lagging required by law.

“All industries are working on reducing their energy consumption, because energy supply is becoming a big issue, especially in Southern Africa, where Zambia relies mostly on hydropower,” adds Musaba, who is based at SEW-EURODRIVE’s office in Kitwe.

Musaba emphasises that SEW-EURODRIVE designs energy efficient products that can help Zambian industries realise the country’s goal of reducing its energy intensity to 76% of its 2018 consumption of 61.926 TWh by 2030, as per the EESAP, while still achieving the optimal operation of their systems.

Current Installed Base

SEW-EURODRIVE has an extensive footprint in Zambia, which includes mining operations based on the Copperbelt, says SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa export head Marcio Sicchiero.

While some mines have standardised their conveyor systems with SEW-EURODRIVE motors, Musaba adds that the company is working towards increasing its footprint by becoming the preferred supplier of prime movers to the Zambian mining industry.

“We are alive to the fact that there is competition, but our products are premium in terms of material and technology and deliver a long operating life, reduced energy consumption and maximum uptime to achieve optimal efficiency.”

By appointing Musaba, a qualified electrical and mechanical engineer, in August last year, SEW-EURODRIVE has strengthened its in-country, onsite after-sales support offering in Zambia.

“Our clients are assured of constant 100% onsite support, physically or online. But I mostly go to site to help clients with any problems that may arise.”

SEW-EURODRIVE complements its Zambian clients, which are involved in the mining, beverage and cement industries, by upskilling and supporting their local staff with training through its DriveAcademy in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new South African SEW-EURODRIVE headquarters’ initiative is well-equipped to support the needs of its African client base, in Zambia and beyond, in this way.

Demand Side

Musaba says demand for SEW-EURODRIVE’s motors in Zambia has been “fairly good” so far this year and expects greater uptake of the company’s products, owing to positive developments for copper producers in the region.

“There is much demand for copper, cobalt and related metals, owing to the increased production of electric vehicles, which requires mining operations to ramp up production and subsequently invest in more equipment.”

But with the lingering global economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sicchiero says SEW-EURODRIVE has noted that its clients across all industries are increasingly moving away from keeping large stockholdings of spare units and parts onsite.

“They don’t want their available funds sitting in storage.”

SEW-EURODRIVE is well placed to accommodate this trend through its extensive inventory in Johannesburg, he says.

The company can offer its clients a short turnaround when breakdowns occur, with replacement units two hours away by air and three to four days away by road.

“We believe that our turnaround to supply a unit to an end-user is faster than our rivals,” notes Sicchiero.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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