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21 October 2016

Swaziland procures power from SA as generation resources run dry

In Southern Africa, Swaziland’s electricity company is battling to meet demand due to the almost baron dams as a result of low rainfall this season.

With effect from 1 October 2016, the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) signed a power purchase agreement with South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, to supply 100% of the country’s power needs, the Swazi Observer reported.

Swaziland is running dry

Having no backup plan in place, the SEC acting managing director, Meshack Kunene, said: “There is direct correlation between the current persistent drought and power generation to the crisis.

“Swaziland is currently importing 100% electricity from South Africa and a local Independent Power Producer (IPP).”

According to media, Kunene said that four of their hydro power stations do not have sufficient water resources to operate the plant – Edwaleni, Ezulwini, Maguduza and New Maguga.

“Maguga has not been running for 10 months now, we last drew water from there on the first week of February," Kunene said.

He added: "The pressure was not enough for generating electricity and trying to do that was going to damage our machinery. Luphohlo Dam has not been running since 1 October."

Intermittent rains affect supply

According to the acting MD, the depleting dams has been on the radar for the past few years having not received good rains for power generation for a period of three years. He revealed that Maguga Dam’s capacity is currently at 16% while Luphohlo Dam is currently at 40%.

He added that SEC used to generate electricity from Maguga Dam when the dam’s capacity stood at 40% and above, adding that Luphohlo Dam was recently at 36% but picked up to 40%, the Swazi Observer reported.

According to media, Kunene further revealed that before the drought SEC used to have six months for generation power, between October and March. He said this was the period which they used to harvest water and store the water for electricity generation."

“Every year between June and August the cost of importing electricity hikes by four times of the normal price, and this is the time when Luphohlo Dam came in handy. If GS15 is good enough, we would be storing there to meet high season capacity,” Kunene said.

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