SADC ministers review progress in the implementation of energy, water projects
The Ministers of Energy and Water from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), met last week in Windhoek to review progress in the implementation of energy and water programmes and projects, and to discuss the energy and water supply status to ensure food security and development in the SADC region.
The ministerial meeting, hosted by Namibia, was attended by SADC ministers or their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from international cooperation partners comprising United Nations agencies, implementing agencies, development partners, youth representatives, and was preceded by a three-day meeting of senior officials responsible for energy and water.
In his keynote address, the Co-Chairperson and Minister of Mines and Energy, Hon Tom Alweendo, noted that considerable efforts have been made on energy and water programmes and projects, and urged his co-ministers to ensure that their decisions should change the lives of the citizens, in particular with regard to energy and water and subsequently the overall Sustainable Development Goals.
He acknowledged the progress to date, outlining the challenges with security of supply in both the energy and water sectors. He noted that demand increases commensurately with each developmental stride and due to the ever-changing climatic conditions.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and also Co-Chairperson, Hon Alpheus Naruseb acknowledged the efforts of the entire region on energy and water infrastructure projects intended to drive industrialisation in Member State as part of the long-term agenda to establish and develop a regional industrial hub.
Naruseb said the meeting came at a difficult time where parts of the rRegion received below normal rainfall while some parts have been affected by the Cyclones IDAI and Kenneth, which destroyed some water and energy infrastructure and caused heavy casualties in Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He further mentioned that investing in water and energy infrastructure does not only have positive economic benefits but also positive trade-offs in the form of improved security and reduced poverty.
The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, called for Member State’s guidance and support in the implementation of water and energy programmes that contribute to the realisation of the five-year targets in the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).
Speaking on the regional performance of the sectors, Dr Mhlongo said only 40% of a population of roughly 300 million, has access to adequate sanitation while some 60% enjoys access to safe drinking water.
In terms of supply and demand for electricity, the region has installed generation capacity of 71,950 megawatts (MW), therefore, withn regard to the current peak demand and generation capacity reserve margins, there is a relatively small deficit of more than 650 MW.
In the energy sector, the deliberations focused on security of energy supply, energy infrastructure development, and progress on targets from the previous ministerial meeting decisions.
The meeting also reviewed the regional power programmes and projects, petroleum and gas sub-programmes, renewable energy and energy efficiency issues, the energy sector regulatory sub-programme implemented by the subsidiary organisations and the international cooperating partners supporting the SADC Energy programme.
The ministers reviewed progress on the regional gas sub-programme and the ongoing regional infrastructure development initiatives in support of regional integration.
The meeting noted progress in the amendment of the Protocol on Energy of 1996 and approved the Roadmap to finalize the review and amendment of the Protocol, charging Member States who have not yet acceded to the Protocol to do so.
The meeting called on Member States to commit to the Regional Priority Power Projects for improved security of energy supply and directed the Secretariat to present a comprehensive report on energy projects that are under preparation and development by regional project preparation facilities.
For the purpose of executing its mandate, the Secretariat received support from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to undertake a project to engage young entrepreneurs to formulate bankable and sustainable projects.
In the water sector, the ministers reviewed progress in the implementation of the SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) Phase IV, and other programmes and projects implemented by the subsidiary organisations and the River Basin Organisations affiliated to SADC. The ministers further reviewed progress on the status of regional groundwater management programmes, the Regional Water fund, cross-border water supply and sanitation projects, and other projects in the Water Chapter of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan.
Furthermore, the ministers from both the energy and water sectors jointly discussed the Water, Energy and Food (WEF) Nexus Programme, advising Member States to set up coordination mechanisms for Nexus initiatives in their respective countries and directed the Secretariat to fast track the development of the Nexus framework.
Member States were commended for the progress on the following river basin programmes: Cuvelai Watercourse Commission (CUVECOM); Incomati and Maputo River Basins (INCOMAPUTO); Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM); Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM); Orange Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM); and Zambezi River Basin Commission (ZAMCOM).
Finally, all the ministers in the meeting agreed that Namibia offers warm hospitality and solid technical support to host a meeting of this nature and scope.
The next meeting is scheduled for approximately one year from now, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.