Windhoek - The SADC region has a power deficit of more than 650 megawatts (MW), the SADC Secretariat's Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Thembinkosi Mhlongo, has said.
Lack of access to electricity, she said, has a negative impact to the region’s economy.
“The SADC region is facing a number of multiple challenges related to energy and water security, and lack of access and unaffordability which have crippling effects on our economies. For example, according to the 2018 SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report, access to electricity in most member states is below 50 percent compared to 55 percent for the Sub-Saharan Africa region,” said Mhlongo.
“In terms of supply and demand, the region has installed generation capacity of 71 950 MW. Therefore, when taking into account the current peak demand and generation capacity reserves margins, the region has a deficit capacity of more than 650MW,” he said.
He said the installed capacity in the region remains dominated by thermal coal-fired plants mainly from South Africa.
Information from the regional bloc shows that even though the region is in an energy deficit, from 2013 to 2018 the share of fossil fuels decreased from 74 percent to approximately 60 percent while hydropower remained constant at 21 percent which implies a shift towards cleaner fuel.
However, Mhlongo noted that the discoveries of natural gas both onshore and offshore within the region’s member states such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania was expected to bring a positive change in the regional energy sector.
“The developments in this subsectors also require guidance from ministers to ensure that these natural resources benefit the region effectively. The regional trade through gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) will require development of resilient interconnected gas infrastructure,” he said.
In an interview, Assistant Commissioner for Petroleum Development in the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy, Joyce Kisamo, said her country had started using the discovered oil for energy generation and more resources were needed for extracting the natural resource in order to fully utilise it.
“We are grateful to God that we discovered natural gas in Tanzania and we are using it for energy, cooking and for some industries. Our plan is to use the natural gas for our industries, we want our country to be an industrialised country and by 2025 to become a middle income country. As we all know that development is geared by energy, without energy, there is no development, so the natural gas that we have discovered will help us and also other member states to develop,” said Kisamo.
She said energy requires infrastructure and incorporating the private sector will quicken the process.
“There are mega projects around the natural gas we are looking forward to LNG massive projects and we cannot only depend on the government, we need also the private sector, the public and private partnership can help us develop faster. We also welcome people who want to invest in petroleum industry, fertilizer industry since we already have the gas, as well as those industries that want to use gas as a source of energy,” said Kisamo.
According to the region’s Committee for Ministers responsible for energy and water, considerable efforts have been made on the energy sector.
Chairperson of the Committee, Namibian Minister of Energy and Mines, Tom Alweendo, said: “The noted efforts the region has done in the energy sector include the continued strengthening of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) which has enabled a competitive electricity market in the region to flourish, establishment of domestic and electricity regulators as well as the Regional Electricity Regulators Association (RERA) that provides a platform for effective co-operation between regulators, the establishment of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) to promote marketing adoption of sustainable energy technologies and services and the introduction of independent power producers that injected much needed private capital investment to expand our generation capacity,” said Alweendo.