By DARLINGTON MWENDABAI
CENTRE for Global Dialogue (CGD) has urged Government to remove import duty on solar energy equipment to discourage over-dependence on charcoal and wood as domestic fuel.
CGD programme officer Phingiwe Shonga said the country should exploit alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar.
Ms Shonga said the challenge has been that most Zambians do not afford to buy solar equipment hence relying on charcoal and wood as alternatives.
She, however, said that such alternatives have adverse effects on the environment, especially in light of climate change.
“Dependence on charcoal and wood as fuel by some communities in Zambia is contributing to climate change. Government should intervene by reducing or removing import duty on solar products,” she said.
Ms Shonga said communities should be encouraged to participate in climate change mitigation initiatives adding that Government should also expedite rural electrification programmes as one way of reducing theses effects. Climate change includes heat waves, floods and drought, which have become a dominant feature in parts of Zambia.
“Environmental awareness must be encouraged on the dangers of uncontrolled and unattainable activities such as bush fires, charcoal burning, and unsustainable agricultural practices,” she said.
Ms Shonga said climate change causes land degradation, which undermines the soil’s capacity to store carbon, particularly for most Zambians who are engaged in farming.
“With the majority of Zambians depending on agriculture as a source of livelihood and income, a slight change in temperature can affect crops like maize with catastrophic consequence on lives of people,” she said.
Government decided to zero rate import duty on solar panels from 15 per cent as contained in the Customs and Excise (Amendment) Act No.4 of April 1999 to make solar power accessible.