Power costs burden for average households
With the current electricity rates standing at 166.52 cents per unit, these figures trigger the concern on the impact they have on the average consuming household and other entities, especially since there is no factual subsidy put by the government on this aspect of utility.
About 20% of electricity is used for commercial purposes, 37% by households and about 40% goes in bulks to Large Power Users (LPU) like mines.
The Economist interviewed two students from the Polytechnic of Namibia, Natasha Kataahi and Elizabeth Hiyolwa on how the new electricity tarriffs have affected them.
The students explained that N$20 will acquire about 11.6 units, which lasts a day for an average household. Electricity per week would be roughly N$150, putting into consideration that this is an average household with low power using facilities.
The student also said that the increase in transport costs was affecting them. “I think that inflation should go hand in hand with the population income. Electricity and transport are daily needs, I find it necessary that if these are increased salary be increased as well” Kataahi said.
“The impacts of these decisions made at such high levels have a very big impact on us, the people. I would strongly suggest that this be looked into and they find a better solution that is more manageable” Hiyolwa added.
“I understand that these decisions may have been made to level the economic growth but they should be aware that is exhausting us and our dollar value. Perhaps they can consider a measure of strengthening our dollar and managing the impacts of inflation to an extent where the impacts are not so detrimental on society.” Kataahi said.
“The population of people who have a good stable salary that satisfies them is lower than those who struggle from the 1st to the 30th of every month. These need to be put into consideration as well.”, Hiyolwa pointed out as she added that there are still settlements within the city where the basic need of electricity is still not available.
Michael Gaweseb, of the Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT) said, “As we might be aware using diesel and coal is not sustainable for Namibia as we do not produce these products, thus subjected international prices. Not only that NamPower must be compelled to drastically move away from grid based electricity by enabling households to generate electricity through solar as Namibia has some of the highest solar radiation in the world”
Gaweseb is of the opinion that NamPower should not see off grid power supply as threat to their own sustainability as their sustainability can only be guaranteed when there is affordable security of power supply. The country currently imports about 60%, up to 80% (during dry seasons) of its electricity.
He said, “The high electricity prices we pay as a country is basically caused by lack of foresight by NamPower and the Electricity Control Board. Namibia has not embarked on own generation of electricity in a way that would meet local demand. The focus has only been on importing as it seemingly was cheaper as viewed by them, thus Namibia had almost never established a new power generation plant for nearly 20 years after independence.”
“The most significant part is that most of this will be renewable electricity, which is a fundamental change from decades of coal and diesel based electricity (both imported and locally generated).”
Almost all the sectors in the economy are dependent on electricity including staple food production such as the green scheme,” he added.
“NamPower is to get N$1.6 billion from government over the next 3 years to build Kudu gas. As we might recall government had to compel them to develop this power plant. Namibia has no business importing electricity as can be seen from the government pushed Kudu gas power plant,” he said.