SADC lags behind in electricity and energy access

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Insufficient funds limits the Secretariat to implement crucial activities


Over the past 20 years there has been limited investment in the regional power sector and the SADC Region lags behind other regional economic communities in Africa in terms of energy and electricity access. This was said by Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, who is also the Director of Infrastructure and Services, Remigious Makumbe at the 33rd SADC Energy Ministers in Lesotho meeting last week.
In his introductory remarks he emphasized the importance of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Master Plan and that the Energy Ministers had an important role to play in the process of ensuring the implementation of energy components of the Master Plan. He indicated that Mozambique was investing in a number of power projects which will contribute to the regional generation capacity.
According to Makumbe’s address, the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) had an available capacity of 51,702 MW against a demand of 53,833 MW inclusive of peak demand, suppressed demand and reserves. This gives a regional capacity shortfall of 7,709 MW. Electricity demand increased by a weighted average of 2.5% per annum. A total capacity equivalent to 1,099 MW was commissioned in 2012 as follows: in Angola (340 MW), DRC (120 MW), Namibia (92 MW), Mozambique (107 MW), Tanzania (100 MW), South Africa (303 MW) and Zambia (37 MW) from rehabilitation and new projects.


The Gazette Business understands that the region plans to commission 2,321 MW in 2013 and that it will have suffi cient generation capacity reserves after 2016 if all projects are commissioned as planned while energy adequacy will be achieved by 2017. A total of approximately 17,000MW of new generation is expected to be commissioned between the period 2013 to 2016 of which 3 percent will be renewable energy from wind and solar. Ministers resolved to provide necessary government support in order to accelerate project implementation and press for completion of electricity projects according to the planned timelines to ensure that the stated targets are met.
The meeting also resolved to fast track implementation of interconnector and regional transmission projects such as: ZimbabweZambia-Botswana-Namibia (ZIZABONA) Transmission Project, Mozambique/Malawi Interconnector, Central Transmission Corridor, the Namibia/Angola Interconnector and Zambia/Tanzania/Kenya Interconnector with a view to complete the region’s interconnectivity and relieve congestion on the regional grid to facilitate electricity trading.
With regards to electricity regulation, Ministers noted that eleven out of the fi fteen countries in the SADC region have introduced electricity regulatory oversight in the form of an energy or electricity regulatory agency and that the remaining member states are at different stages of the process. It was also noted that the SADC Region would not be able to comply with the Council’s decision to reach full cost recovery tariffs by 2013.
At the end of the meeting, Ministers adopted the Clean Energy on Education and Empowerment Initiative (C3E) presented by South Africa as one of the fl agship energy projects for the Region. They further tasked South Africa to champion the initiative on behalf of the Region and work with the Secretariat to ensure that it is streamlined in the Regional Agenda.