Revised SADC energy protocol prepared for next meeting of ministers
The review process of a regional framework that guides the development of energy infrastructure in southern Africa is progressing well.
Senior Programme Officer responsible for Energy at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, Moses Ntlamelle said this at the recent Energy Thematic Group (ETG) meeting held on 22 October in Gaborone, Botswana.
The revised SADC Protocol on Energy is expected to have clear, practical and more manageable targets to enable the region to strengthen its energy security and ensure that power supply meets demand.
The existing protocol was adopted in 1996 and is now outdated since it does not capture some of the changing dynamics in the energy sector at regional, continental and global levels such as the push to greater uptake of renewable energy sources and technologies as well as the impact of climate change.
Another challenge with the existing protocol is that its provisions are not legally binding, making it difficult to enforce and implement.
“The review team has covered a lot of ground in realigning the SADC Protocol on Energy to new and emerging trends,” Ntlamelle said, adding that “gaps have been identified” and the next stage is to submit the revised document for legal scrutiny.
“Energy experts have already looked at the document and in the next few weeks we will convene a meeting of legal experts to validate the document.”
Thereafter the document will be subjected to various reviews by the ministers of energy and those responsible for justice.
Once approved by the ministers, the instrument will be tabled before the SADC Council of Ministers before it is elevated to the summit of SADC heads of state and government for final approval.
The protocol entered into force in 1998 to promote the harmonious development of national energy policies and matters of common interest for the balanced and equitable development of energy throughout the region. It outlines the institutional mechanisms and financial provisions in place for implementing the energy programme for the region.
In May 2019 the SADC energy ministers approved a roadmap to finalize the protocol’s review, at the same time urging member states who have not yet acceded to the legal instrument to do so.
As of August 2018, before the admission of the Union of Comoros as the newest member of SADC, all member states, except Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Seychelles, had ratified the Protocol on Energy.
Speaking at the same meeting, Director of Infrastructure at the SADC Secretariat, Mapolao Mokoena said energy is a key enabler of sustainable development and regional integration. As such, it was important for cooperating partners to support as well as align their assistance to energy development to ensure the smooth implementation of agreed activities and programmes.
The SADC ETG consists of representatives of the SADC Secretariat, SADC energy subsidiary organisations, International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) and a knowledge partner, the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC).
The lead ICP for the energy sector is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
SADC energy subsidiary organisations are the Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA), SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), and the Southern African Power Pool.
SACREEE is responsible for spearheading the promotion of renewable energy development in the region, while RERA regulates energy trading in the region.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC). Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa at www.sardc.net