Several electricity distribution projects in the pipeline to expand regional power grid
By Kizito Sikuka in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre.
Southern Africa plans to commission more than 4,880 Megawatts of new generation capacity in the foreseeable future, a development that will expand the regional energy grid and improve energy security.
Speaking to journalists ahead of the 39th SADC Summit set for 17 to 18 August in Dar es Salaam, the Director of Infrastructure and Services at the SADC Secretariat, Mapolao Mokoena said the community is implementing various measures to address the energy deficit and boost energy generation.
These measures include investment in renewable energy as well as the rehabilitation of old power plants and building of new transmission lines to promote the smooth movement of electricity between and among SADC Member States.
For example, investment and development of diversified energy resources and technologies resulted in the commissioning of 24,554 Megawatts (MW) of generation capacity between 2008 and 2018, while a total of 4,175 MW of power generation capacity was commissioned in 2018/2019 alone.
“The target is now to commission a total of 4,883 MW in 2019/20,” she said.
She said some of the priority energy projects for SADC is the construction of the Angola-Namibia Interconnector, the Mozambique-Malawi Interconnector and the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector.
The three interconnectors are important in that they will connect the power networks of three non-operating members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) – Angola, Malawi and Tanzania – to the regional grid, enabling all mainland SADC Member States to share and benefit from increased generation capacity across borders.
The ZTK will not only link Tanzania to the SAPP grid, but also connect the Eastern African Power Pool to SAPP, allowing countries in eastern Africa to trade surplus electricity with those in southern Africa.
SAPP is a regional body that coordinates the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity in southern Africa on behalf of member state utilities.
Since its establishment in 1995, SAPP has provided a platform for power utilities to share electricity loads and help manage surpluses and deficits.
In fact, the SAPP competitive electricity market has increased from less than 1% in 2012 to 32% in December 2018, according to the SADC Secretariat.
With regard to the need to harness and increase the uptake of renewable energy, the region has created the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) to spearhead the promotion of renewable energy development in the region.
SADC is also in the process of developing a Regional Gas Master Plan that will guide the exploitation of the vast natural gas resources that exist in the region.
The aim for SADC is to achieve a renewable energy mix in the regional grid of at least 32% by 2020 and 35% by 2030. Currently, the regional energy mix is dominated by coal which contributes more than 70%.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe. Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa at www.sardc.net.