The Southern African Development Community (SADC) continues to seek ways of increasing power generation across the Region to surpass the 3,595 megawatts (MW), out of a targeted 4,000MW, contributed in 2019 by Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Energy is a key enabler of economic development and that is why there has been notable progress across the Region in power generation, and interconnector projects that seek to connect countries to the region’s power pool.
Under SADC Vision 2050’s Second Pillar of Infrastructure Development in Support of Regional Integration, the target is that by 2050, the Region would have efficient and effective cross-border infrastructure apparatus, services and networks to support and facilitate deeper regional integration and reduce or avoid transboundary conflicts. The region envisions integrated and quality seamless infrastructure and networks, including improved capacity for construction, maintenance and operation of affordable regional infrastructure and services.
As part of the measures to increase power generating in the Region and given the nexus between energy and development, SADC Ministers of Energy recently met to consider various energy projects.
Among key issues, the Ministers approved a draft agreement to amend the SADC Protocol on Energy of 1996 and recommended legal clearance of the draft by the Ministers responsible for Justice and Attorneys General, and subsequent submission to the Council of Ministers for consideration and approval in March 2021.
The Ministers met in a meeting virtually hosted by Mozambique on 30th October 2020, during which they deliberated on programmes of regional dimensions in support of the implementation of the recently approved SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30 and SADC Vision 2050, particularly programmes for infrastructure development.
The Ministers commended progress achieved on the roadmap for finalisation of the review and amendment of the Protocol, which is based on 10 principles under which Member States work collectively to ensure that energy in different forms is used efficiently to support economic growth and sustainable development; utilise energy to promote self-reliance; and promote and encourage participation of citizens, communities and the private sector in the development of energy infrastructure and services.
The rationale for review of the Protocol on Energy of 1996 is based on eliminating inconsistencies, correcting inadequacies, emerging institutional reforms and promoting private sector participation in infrastructure development.
The amendment of the Protocol on Energy is expected to unlock value in the energy sector in the Region, resulting in more private players coming on board with infrastructure projects in energy and power generation.
SADC is targeting to commission 16,515 megawatts of new electricity generation capacity over the next three years as the region moves to strengthen its energy infrastructure as an enabler for its industrialisation agenda. Of that amount, nearly 5,900 MW is expected to come from South Africa, while the United Republic of Tanzania plans to commission about 4,900 MW. Other significant contributions to the regional power pool are expected from Angola (2,499 MW) and Zambia (1,186 MW).
However, of the 16,515 MW additional generation capacity planned for commissioning, only 9,731 MW, or about 59 percent, will be available to the regional grid since SADC is not yet fully integrated in terms of energy trading.
All mainland SADC Member States, with the exception of Angola, Malawi and Tanzania, are interconnected through the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) regional grid, allowing them to share surplus energy. New generation capacity installed in any of the three non-participating countries is not accessible to the nine other members of SAPP – Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In terms of interconnector projects, there has been notable progress on preparation and implementation of priority interconnector projects that aim to connect Angola, Malawi and Tanzania to the SAPP grid.
The Mozambique-Malawi interconnector attained financial closure and is at construction stage and is expected to be commissioned in 2022.
The Zambia-Tanzania interconnector is divided into several components and it is at construction phase from the Zambian side and Tanzania side where the two transmission lines are designed to converge near Nakonde Border by 2022.
The Angola-Namibia Interconnector is at feasibility studies stage and is also expected to be commissioned by 2022 following expression of commitment by the two Member States by signing the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding.
On the north-western side of the region, Angola and the DRC are also considering to develop an interconnector project which is still at pre-feasibility stage.
To unlock and leverage the development of the interconnector projects, SAPP is undertaking, with support from the World Bank, a study on establishment of a Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing Facility. The recommendations of the study are expected to be presented to Council of Ministers for consideration and approval in March 2021.
The Secretariat is advocating for the development of the Western transmission corridor along DRC, Angola, Namibia Botswana and, Central transmission corridor along South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia and Tanzania and Eastern corridors along South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania of SAPP network in order to relieve congestion from the existing central corridor.
To enhance investments in power projects in the region, the Ministers responsible for Energy approved the Market and Investment Framework for SADC Power Projects as an instrument to guide investors who want to venture into power generation and transmission projects.