Electricity Company in Zambia Has Role in Mitigating Climate Change: Catholic Bishop

The headquarters of the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO). Credit: ZESCO

A Catholic Bishop in Zambia has said that the State-owned Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO) has a big role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Bishop Raymond Mpezele who was speaking to the Diocese of Livingstone-based Radio Maria Musi-O-Tunya said trees, which play a big role in the climate are mostly cut down by the poor preferring to use charcoal instead of electrical ways of cooking due to high fuel prices. 

“Trees are cut down for charcoal for poor people who are unable to pay for electricity for cooking purposes. Electricity for cooking purposes should be made available to greatly reduce reliance on Charcoal,” the Bishop Emeritus of Zambia’s Livingstone Diocese said Thursday, March 17. 

He added, “ZESCO should seriously consider having a low and fixed electricity tariff for compounds and rural areas where the majority are poor.”

“People of Zambia should be assisted to stop cutting down trees on a large scale for the purpose of making charcoal and timber businesses,” said Bishop Mpezele.


Apart from lowering electricity prices, the 82-year-old Catholic Bishop said, there is a need for the Zambian government to establish a ministry “with the special responsibility to help in the mitigation of climate change in Zambia.”

“This ministry should strictly control the cutting down of indigenous trees in the country,” said the Catholic Bishop who was at the helm of the Zambian Diocese from July 1985 to June 2016. 

In his message, the Zambian Bishop further said that Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in areas that have been most affected by the cutting down of trees “could be used to empower poor people so that they find alternative means of earning their livelihood and stop cutting down indigenous trees on a large scale for the purpose of making charcoal and timber.”

“The young indigenous trees we see in Zambia are the future of the country, Zambia should give a chance to young indigenous trees to grow into big trees without obstacles,” he said.

The Zambian Catholic Bishop added, “Big indigenous trees and forests cause rainfall. That is why cutting down trees on a large scale for charcoal and timber business greatly reduces the amount of rainfall.”

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The Bishop Emeritus of Livingstone Diocese also called on the Zambian lawmakers to legislate laws that will deal with those who start forest fires. 

“Time has come for Zambia to do as the British government did, forbidding bush fires. This can be done by enacting a law in parliament,” the Catholic Bishop said March 17. 

“We go back to pre-independence days when some of us were still boys looking after cattle in the bush,” he recalled, and added, “Bush fires were prohibited by the colonialists. Anyone caught starting a fire ended up in prison. As boys, we were afraid of starting fires. By forbidding such fires, the British government was ahead of our time in combating climate change.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.