The High Court in Zambia has quashed a decision by the government to declare a private company’s electricity transmission lines as a common carrier.
Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa last year declared infrastructure owned by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), Zambia’s leading supplier of electricity to the mines, as “common carrier”.
It meant the company was under obligation to provide its facilities to any entity that wished to use the transmission lines – provided they agreed the terms and conditions with CEC.
But CEC sued the government, arguing Mr Nkhuwa’s decision amounted to “expropriation” of its infrastructure.
“The respondent’s decisions were illegal and tainted with procedural impropriety,” Lusaka High Court Judge Elita Phiri-Mwikisa ruled.
“All in all, I find that the applicant has succeeded on all grounds…I accordingly quash the decision of the minister of 29 May 2020, to declare the applicant’s transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier.”
Analysts had argued that the move was meant to aid Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), the local unit of Indian mining giant Vedanta, which has been under control government control since May 2019.
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