“The DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] segment of the business has scaled up quite well and is, today, performing well and contributing significantly to the revenue and the bottom line of our financial performance”, Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) Managing Director, Owen Silavwe has disclosed.

In a recent interview on various aspects of the business, Silavwe was confident that the DRC market would continue to be a big part of CEC.

Although present there for many years, CEC has over the past few years aggressively pursued the DRC, growing its market share and setting up permanent presence through its subsidiary, CEC-DRC Sarl, through which it conducts marketing and prospecting activities to mining and industrial customers in that market, including upcoming green fields, expected to bring new frontiers of growth and resilience.

“We are a relatively big player in the DRC, and we have managed to establish a subsidiary called CEC-DRC Sarl which is focused on marketing the CEC service to mining and industrial customers in DRC. CEC will continue to focus on regional markets as part of its international drive without compromising its strong operations in Zambia”, Silavwe assured.

He also expressed optimism over the nearing return of the Copperbelt Province’s glory days as the hub of mining in Zambia amid stiff competition from the North-Western Province where newer large-scale open pit mines have established strong footprints on the Zambian mining scene.

The government of Zambia has set an ambitious plan to lift copper production to 3 million metric tons by 2032, from the current levels of around 860,000 metric tons. The planned level of production would enable the country to benefit from the expected rally in global copper prices as the push for electric vehicles and a greener global economy accelerate.

To raise copper production to the targeted levels, the country is expected to bolster key supporting sectors such as electricity through investment in generation and infrastructure build.

Estimates indicate that the country would require at least US$14 billion worth of fresh investments into new power infrastructure to meet the projected demand by the mining sector in the next decade. 

In view of these projections, Silavwe expects a rebound in power consumption in the Copperbelt from the current 750MW estimate to even surpass the previous peak demand of over 1,000MW seen about two decades ago, as efforts to “unlock” the two biggest mines in the province continue while new mines are also being brought on stream.

The emergence of mid-tier miners in the minerals production basket is also providing an important dimension to the profile of CEC’s customers and, as well, unlocking new opportunities that could accelerate the company’s attainment of its operational and financial performance targets.

Silavwe has emphatically stated that the business has boldly set itself to double its profitability to US$100 million by 2027.

“We are obviously becoming bold as we look at the future and we intend to take on very bold goals as a business. Today, we are a company that makes a net profit of US$50 million to US$60 million. Our target over the next five years is to try and grow that to over US$100 million,” he said.

“As a business, we believe the stage is set for us to drive that growth whether you’re looking at it from the culture perspective or business areas that we want to focus on or whether you’re looking at it from the technology or financial resource perspective, we think the business is just at the right point where it should be able to drive that sort of growth over the next five years,” Silavwe explained.

CEC is presently the only non-state utility full member of the SADC’s Southern African Power Pool. Its vast infrastructure valued at more than US$500 million includes the sole transmission interconnector between Southern Africa and the DRC, jointly operated with DRC national utility, Société Nationale d’Électricité, and a key component of the region’s central transmission corridor for facilitating power trade.