Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) recently celebrated 60 years of existence, and 20 years as a successful privatised entity; a period that has seen it grow in standing to become a leading investor, developer and operator of energy infrastructure in Zambia.
This January, CEC celebrates its 10-year anniversary as the first and only privately-owned power utility in Zambia to be listed on the Lusaka Securities Exchange (LuSE).
Ten years ago, CEC proceeded with its plan to sell a 25 percent stake to the public in an initial public offer, of which 5% was reserved for employees.
At the time, the Company said it wanted to boost share ownership by Zambians and needed to raise funds for future expansion, infrastructure upgrades and replacement of equipment at the end or nearing the end of useful life. All this investment would, over the next few years following, enable the Company to meet additional power demand from its mining customers. These objectives have been successfully met.
The private energy provider was listed on the LuSE on the 21st of January 2008; empowering thousands of Zambians through direct and indirect ownership of CEC’s shares. Some 360 million shares have since been traded with a value of ZMW230 million. The highest share price reached in ten years was ZMW1.46; with a weighted average 10-year share price of ZMW0.64. Average share price as at January 2018 is sitting at ZMW1.43.
CEC’s listing has delivered real benefits, some of which are:
- raising the profile of CEC and improving its corporate governance, putting it on the path to become one of the largest power traders in the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP);
- empowering citizens and contributing to the securities exchange by widening the investor base and providing a liquidity event for investors who wanted to exit while at the same time contributing to the growth of the Zambian capital market; and
- creating a sense of ownership among Zambians, making CEC a truly indigenous Zambian company.
The Zambian majority-owned energy company has grown in stature and significance to the Zambian and regional economy. Visionary leadership, innovation and resilience even in the face of difficult periods have ensured the Company maintains and even grows its intimate link to the growth and prosperity of the Copperbelt region and Zambia.
An award-winning private power utility in Zambia with a proud heritage
CEC has its roots in a company called the Rhodesia-Congo Border Power Corporation, which started operations in 1953. The enterprise supplied electricity to the mines in Zambia and the DRC by interconnecting separately-run thermal power stations in the mining belt. The Company later started supplying hydroelectricity to the mines from the Congo and then Zambia, from Kariba.
After other shareholding and name changes, CEC became the first comprehensive electricity privatisation in Sub-Saharan Africa when the Zambian government, in 1997, sold the ZCCM Power Division (as the Company was known then) as a separate entity from the consortium Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM).
Controlling interest changed hands in 2006, ushering in a predominant indigenous Zambian ownership. Today, CEC comprises a group of companies with a strong presence in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The energy company stands out as a successful model for privately-owned and managed power utilities in Africa, gaining further acclaim in 2009 as the first private power company to attain full membership of the SAPP – a regional body made up largely of state-owned power utilities.
Social investment for sustainable communities
CEC prides itself on the contribution it continues to make in the lives of the people of Zambia. The Company has always considered good corporate citizenship as an inextricable component of its service offering. Over the years, CEC has made social investments that have positively impacted and even transformed lives and communities.
From investing in the development of sport in the country, particularly football, to social infrastructure, education, the environment and primary healthcare, CEC is focused on interventions whose impact benefits a significant number of people in any society.
Some of what CEC has done includes:
- providing mobility equipment and various consumable and non-consumable supplies to an organisation working with children with mental and physical disabilities;
- supporting a children’s cancer foundation;
- providing public amenities such as bus shelters, street lighting, bridges and park facilities; and
- establishing a wellness centre which includes a counselling facility, gymnasium and sports facility.
Seizing opportunities for continued growth and adapting to change
CEC’s business is inseparable from the health of the global copper market. A drop in the price of copper affects customers’ production prospects and their demand for energy. This ever-present challenge entails that CEC relies on its innovative spirit and resilience to see it through a tough period.
CEC will look to the future with resolve; taking advantage of sector reforms and seizing opportunities for continued growth through strategic partnerships primarily within Zambia and in the region. The power utility has completed several key projects to capitalise on the growth anticipated in both the local and regional mining sector.
- 2nd DRC-Zambia Interconnector Project – a double-circuit transmission line was built and commissioned in 2016 to add to the existing line with the result being that the carrying capacity of the interconnection has increased to 550MW firm. The interconnection is owned and operated jointly with the DRC national utility, SNEL. The line has enhanced CEC’s power trading capability.
- Mopani Synclinorium Project – Nkana Substation capacity was expanded to meet additional power demand from Mopani Copper Mine’s new synclinorium shaft. Three additional 30MVA 66/11kV transformers with associated equipment were installed.
- NFC Africa Mining (NFCA) South East Ore Body Project – CEC’s most recent major greenfield project involved the construction of a 220/11kV Luela Substation and two 220kV transmission lines of approximately 12 Kilometers. The infrastructure was developed to supply power to NFCA who is sinking an underground shaft complex and establishing a metallurgical plant located at the former Mukulumpe estate in Chambishi area.
- Mindola Expansion Project: designed to increase capacity of Mindola Substation by the installation of three 30MVA 66/11kV transformers and associated equipment to provide additional power requirements to service a new deep shaft at Mopani Copper Mines’ Mindola Mine.
CEC plans to continue playing an increasingly significant role in Zambia’s electricity sector and is looking for opportunities to play across the value chain. CEC will continue to provide value to its shareholders, communities and the Zambian economy.