With the current state of affairs in the energy sector, its safe to say everyone has an opinion of what will need to be done to get Namibia out of a potential sticky power generation problem. Some opinions are valid, some with a great sense of bias and some in between. Point is everyone is an expert. The rond die vuur sit en praat type of solutions.
A range of opinions have been doing the rounds in the press and suggest that; Nampower should shelve Xaris, the Caprivi interconnector was a waste money and is a white elephant, Nampower can potentially set up multiple solar energy plants, a biomass energy plant is an option, there should be absolute disregard for the Ovahimba and Nampower should build a hydro-electric plant in the Kunene, there exists a great potential for wind energy and so on and so forth.
An editorial in one of the dailys not too long ago lambasted Nampower for excessive spending estimated at N$2 billion over a five year period which has not yielded the desired outcome to an energy blunder on its part and that of the Ministry of Mines.
Credit to Shilamba though, his persistence to fix dilapidated Zimbabwean power stations has helped us avoid load shedding and the hindrances on the economy. Our mines have not been forced to suspend activities, on the contrary, Namibia has welcomed three new mines and an acid plant in the space of 18 months. Not too shabby when viewed against what is happening elsewhere in the Southern African Power Pool.
I believe we should include in our arsenal against a looming electricity crisis a range of options. For one; open the sector to players eager to feed energy into the grid. Even if these entities are owned and managed by a group of politically well connected individuals. Allow these greedy buggers to compete within in a free market.
Secondly; a push for the adoption of nuclear energy. Our low population density certainly plays to our advantage. In terms of the location of the nuclear power plant and the disposal of the uranium used to drive the turbines. Oh, did I mention the wonderful cold Atlantic at our doorstep.
This would certainly be more cost effective and generate a whole electricity with off-takers lining up to get a piece of the electricity cake. This certainly makes sense when viewed against the political pipe dream called Kudu.
Thirdly; greater integration in the Southern African Power Pool. Excellent coal deposits in Botswana, hydro-electric projects in Zambia and Zimbabwe and possibly Angola and gas in Mozambique and South Africa. Imagine the possibilities if each country harnesses what is readily available.
Crazy as it may seem, dissolve Nampower, Eskom, BPC and all related government entities and open up an allay of investment out to private equity groups, pension and medical aid funds and development banks in the region. After-all, would it matter where Windhoek gets its electricity or whether a solar power plant in Keetmanshoop powers parts of south-western Botswana and the Northern Cape province. Integration has arguably fared well for us in the area of finance, why not power too? We certainly do not need a flagship 3 000 mW Inga power project.
The Ministry of Mines and in particular Nampower should get us out of this situation just as fast as they put as here. Op jou merke Shilamba, tyd om te werk!