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SADC Energy Ministers Meet in Harare, Zimbabwe

The Ministers responsible for Energy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met at the Rainbow Towers in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 25th April 2007. The meeting was opened by Honourable Vice President Amai J T Mujuru.
As is the usual practice the ministerial meeting was preceded by a preparatory meeting of Senior Energy Officials on the 23rd and 24th April 2007.  The officials’ meeting was in turn preceded by a meeting of the Southern African Power Pool Chief Executives on the 23rd April 2007.

The Ministers registered their recognition of energy as a prerequisite for socio-economic development and therefore for the attainment of the Millenium Development Goals.  They observed with concern, however, that, inspite of the region being well endorsed with energy resource the overall per capita energy consumption was far below the world average.  In particular, the ministers noted that biomass is a major source of energy for the rural and poor urban areas accounting for over 70% of the total energy demand, and that continuing poverty and the high cost associated with accessing the modern and more convenient forms of energy are some of the major factors that confine the majority of the people to the use of biofuels.

The Ministers deliberated on the trends and developments in the SADC Energy Sector, the rate and level of implementation of the different energy projects and the efforts that the member states, the SADC secretariat, the International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) and different Financers are spearheading towards the provision of reliable, cost effective, affordable and secure energy supply.

As a result of the above efforts the Ministers noted that a number of projects at different levels of implementation were being under taken.  The Programme for Biomass Energy Conservation and the Rural Energy Planning and Environmental Management Programme were enhancing the capacities and commitments of member states to plan and implement biomass energy conservations.  These Progammes were contributing to the reduction of the adverse effects of biomass utilization.  The Ministers, in view of the crucial role of biomass directed the SADC Secretariat, working in consultation with the Member States to engage the ICPs with a view to leverage additional resources to include countries not yet  covered by ProBEC.

Of particular concern to the Ministers was that the Southern African Power Pool’s forecast that actual power generation reserve capacity in the region would be lower than the peak demand for power was proving to be accurate.  Ministers were also already aware that load shedding was initiated in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; and that South Africa had effected demand side management measures.

It was, however encouraging that a number of short Term Generation Projects, Medium to Long Term Generation Projects as well as Rehabilitation and Refurbishments Projects had been initiated by the member states.  Some of the short-term projects were already commissioned thus reducing the surplus deficit.  The indication is that although the region will have no surplus capacity by the end of 2007, the problem would likely be overcome by 2010 if the planned projects are implemented and commissioned on schedule.  This would enhance the region’s preparedness to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The meeting also noted the work undertaken by SAPP to implement cost reflective tariffs as a follow-up to the Ministers’ demand at their ad-hoc meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia in July 2004.  The SAPP has initiated a tariff study and appointed a consultant to implement the study which is funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.  The SAPP Plan was also being revised and it will constitute the power sector component of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan to be developed in due course.

The likely contribution of Westcor as a renewable large-scale hydroelectric power generation, power transmission and broad band telecommunications project was highlighted.  Progress indicating that the Chief Operation Officer has been hired following the incorporation of the company in Gaborone, Botswana was also noted.  The project is expected to shortly finalize its Business Plan which would be used to showcase the project to investors.  The Ministers having deliberated on the status of the Power Surplus Capacity in the region noted as follows:

  • the current installed capacity of the SAPP is 53 000 MW
  • the current dependable capacity of the SAPP is about 41 000 MW
  • since 2004, the SAPP members have commissioned rehabilitation projects, which among them has contributed    1 140 MW to the SAPP grid network
  • the SAPP members shall by 2010, undertake short term generation projects which shall add 6,700 MW to the SAPP network at a cost of US$ 7.88 billion
  • the regional energy shortfall is currently 1 000 MW, without a reserve margin of 4 000 MW and the short fall is expected to be reduced to zero through the implementation of the above mentioned projects by 2010/11 (2009 if all inter-connector projects are completed).
  • the regional generation surplus is expected to increase by    5 000 MW from generation projects in progress by 2010.
  • the SAPP members shall undertake long term generation projects which shall add 32 000 MW to the SAPP network at a cost of US$ 32 billion
  • Ministers are invited to urge utilities to initiate demand side management programmes and explore other generation technologies such as renewables.
  • continue to engage partners to leverage funding for the purpose of development, packaging and implementation of feasibility studies prior to marketing them for investment
  • the power utilities to accelerate efforts to finalise ongoing rehabilitation and investment projects.

Thereafter Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat, the SAPP and DBSA to  facilitate urgently, and in collaboration with other partners, the project  development, packaging and feasibility studies for all outstanding SADC regional generation and inter-connector projects and submit a progress report to the next meeting of Ministers.

A number of other complimentary and facilitating programs, activities and projects were highlighted.  The very topical issue of biofuels as an alternative and possible economically produceable renewable fuel to address the issue of persistent petroleum price increases which put pressure on scarce foreign exchange resources and slow down economic development was discussed.  A workshop is being planned for October 2007 by the Secretariat in conjunction with the Southern African Biofuels Association.

Realising the importance of the energy sector and taking note of the regional energy priorities the Ministers directed the officials to revive the sub-committees, steering committees and Task Teams as necessary to facilitate implementation of SADC Energy programmes and projects.

It is also notable that during the ministers’ meeting two memoranda of agreement were signed, namely The Revised SAPP Inter Utility Memorandum of Understanding and the SAPP-RERA Memorandum of Understanding.  RERA – The SADC Regional Energy Regulator Association would now be working formally with SAPP in recognition of the benefits to be achieved in respect of their respective goals, capacity building and harmonization of rules and regulations.

In conclusion, the Ministers appreciated the progress that has been made by the Secretariat and all the stakeholders in ensuring that energy become available by conceiving and implementing programmes and projects that address the energy requirements of the region.

The Minister thanked the People and Government of Zimbabwe for the very comfortable and conducive environment, which led to this very productive meeting, the SADC Secretariat, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development  for the preparations they made for the meeting and all the stakeholders for their support.

Additional information:
News date: 24/04/2007

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