Johannesburg - Southern African energy ministers said on Friday that the region would achieve energy sufficiency by 2019, wiping out the present shortfall of 8 247 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
They said that the projects for new power generators already under way would produce an additional 24 062 MW of electricity by 2019. This, plus the rehabilitation of existing power plants, would create a surplus of about 15%.
Zimbabwean Minister of Energy and Power Development, Samuel Undenge, announced this after a meeting of Southern African Development Community (‘SADC) energy ministers.
They said in a statement that they expected 70% of the 24 062 MW of new generation capacity to be produced from renewable energy sources – hydro, wind and solar.
Remmy Makumbe, director of SADC’s infrastructure and services directorate, explained that the 24 062 MW would include South Africa’s two new major coal-fired power stations, Medupe and Kusile, still under construction, which have a combined capacity output of 9 564 MW.
The ministers said in a statement that since 2014, the 13 mainland SADC member states had commissioned 2,199 MW of generation capacity from new and rehabilitated power plants. This comprised; Angola 150 MW; South Africa 1,654 MW, Mozambique 150 MW and Zambia 245 MW.
About 83% of that was generated from renewable energy sources, mostly from the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in South Africa.
Udenge said the most exciting project in the region was the Grand Inga hydroelectric power plant on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which was forecast to eventually produce 44 000 MW of electricity, though it would be constructed in stages.
He said that the project needed investors and feasibility studies had to start now for it to be realised.
However, Makumbe clarified that the power output from Inga was not included in the 24,062 MW of new power expected by 2019 because it would only come onstream from 2020 onwards.
The ministers commended South Africa and the DRC for ratifying a treaty on the development of the Grand Inga Hydropower Project – through which South Africa has agreed to take 2 500 MW of power from the next phase, Inga 3.
But the ministers also advised South Africa to accelerate the signing of further agreements with DRC to advance the project. Makumbe said after the press conference that the transmission lines from Inga to South Africa would pass through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana but no agreements had yet been concluded for them to tap power from the power lines.
He also said that the energy ministers had resolved to fast-track implementation of priority regional transmission projects which would bring Angola, Malawi and Tanzania fully into the 12-nation Southern African Power Pool, which is a common power grid and a common market for electricity in the SADC region.
And he said that the ministers had agreed that by 2019 all SADC member states should be charging tariffs for electricity that properly reflected the costs of producing it. So far only Namibia and Tanzania had achieved “cost reflectivity,” he said.
The aims of doing so were to reduce the cost burden of states, to recover the costs of constructing new and existing power plants and to encourage independent power producers to invest in establishing new power plants.