On 21st February the SADC energy ministerial task force (EMTF) on implementation of power sector programmes met in Gabarone, Botswana. The meeting was chaired by Michael Nyambuya, Minister of Energy and Power Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe, in the absence of SACD EMTF chair Erikki Nghimtina, minister of mines and energy of Namibia.  The event was opened by P. H. K. Kedikilwe, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Botswana.

Erkki Nghimtina

SACD EMTF chair,
Erkki Nghimtina

The meeting was preceded by Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Regional Electricity Regulators Association (RERA) meetings.

The region has an installed capacity of 54 742 MW of which only 46 391 MW is available. Although new generation amounting to 1 810 MW has been commissioned in the region in 2007, the reserve margin is still in deficit against a required reserve margin of 10.2%. The situation will continue until 2013 when all planned generation projects are commissioned. The status of SAPP generation, transmission and interconnection projects which are categorised as rehabilitation and related infrastructure, short, medium and long term projects was reviewed. A total of US$46.4 billion is required for the implementation of these projects.

The Ministers reviewed proposed short-term measures being instituted by Member States and SAPP to overcome the diminished surplus installed capacity and the expected impact of these measures on the power supply situation. These measures include respective utilities’ short term projects, Eskom’s recovery plan and power capacity being availed by Mozambique for export to the rest of the region.

Eskom, through the recovery plan, has achieved a 10% load reduction in South Africa, a reduction of power supplied through bilateral contracts by 10% and a saving of 600 MW in Eskom demand specifically in the Western Cape. In Mozambique, HCB has recently concluded a rehabilitation project on all units, resulting in the availability of the units increased to 90%, which has released 300MW to be used on non-firm basis to alleviate the crisis that the region is facing.

The Task Force adopted a road map to accelerate the region’s recovery from this power shortage through ensuring the effective connectivity of the interconnectors, as well as supply side and demand side management initiatives as follows:

  • A Power Conservation Programme (PCP) be formulated and implemented as a SADC programme;
  • a SADC policy be developed to ensure efficient use of electrical energy;
  • development of a minimum energy efficiency standard for all new electrical connections;
  • phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in preference to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs);
  • direct the recapitalisation of power utilities; 
  • implementation of renewable energy technologies.

    In addition to these initiatives, it was agreed that an enabling environment is indispensable to accelerate private sector participation and additional investment in the power sector. In order to achieve an enabling environment the SAPP will:

  1. work towards the harmonisation of national electricity policy frameworks;
  2. accelerate the pace of Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) reforms to improve governance and performance; 
  3. develop and implement the necessary national policies and promulgate legislation that will ensure:
    1. promotion of power conservation practices;
    2. provide financial and fiscal incentives to the Utilities for demand side management (DSM) 
  4. adopt and implement principles of cost reflective tariffs to allow utilities and Independent Power Producers (IPP) to recover production costs and allow for recapitalisation.

In addition to supply side and demand side issues, the power sector is facing additional challenges in financing of power projects and institutional arrangements for implementation. It was therefore agreed to implement the following actions:

  • Commission a study to recommend a financing model for cross border projects;
  • SADC/SAPP to assume a direct responsibility for coordinating and monitoring project implementation;
  • Member states should make full use of project preparation facilities to package projects;
  • SADC should follow up on international pledges made to finance NEPAD regional projects.

Structures were considered and approved for implementing projects, which include SADC ministers responsible for energy with ultimate oversight on the power sector projects road map; the Energy Ministerial Task Force to review the pace of implementation of projects; the SADC Secretariat Project Coordination Unit to be responsible for strategic coordination of implementation of infrastructure projects, which includes, project development, packaging, monitoring and reporting process in conjunction with member states, SAPP, RERA and key international partners.

Project teams and project steering committees will undertake day to day implementation and review of specific projects.

It was further agreed to strengthen SAPP to ensure that it has adequate capacity to facilitate the implementation of the road map; and RERA to undertake capacity building within the regulatory and institutional framework to ensure that an enabling environment continues. In addition SAPP and RERA were given new mandates to champion regional power projects in conjunction with member states. The importance of the proposed measures was underscored as a response to address the emergency situation. It was impressed upon the SADC Secretariat, SAPP and RERA, supported by the utilities and other cooperating partners, the need to have clear milestones and timeframes for the proposed measures so that their status of implementation is measurable.

The next Energy Ministerial Task Force Meeting will be held in South Africa at a date still to be determined.