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Electricity demand in Mozambique growing at 15% a year

Mozambique’s minister of energy, Salvador Namburete, says the country’s recent demand for electricity has been growing at about 15% a year and that keeping pace with demand will require adding generation capacity of at least 100 MW annually.  He also says this figure does not take into account extra demand for power from large scale industrial or mining projects.

The country, which is largely a producer of hydroelectric generation capacity, has plans for five new hydro-electric power stations. These are the Cahora Bassa north bank power station which could generate 1,245 MW, Mphanda Nkuwa, on the Zambezi, 60 kilometres downstream from Cahora Bassa which could generate 1,500 MW in phase one and an additional 900 MW in phase two, the 600 MW Lupata project, the 200 MW Boroma project and the 120 MW Lurio scheme. In addition at least three coal mining companies want to install power stations at the mouth of their mines to burn the coal that is not of export quality.

With the exception of the Lurio damn, all these projects are in the Zambezi Valley. They are the main justification for building a new transmission line from Tete province to Maputo, usually referred to as the backbone of the national electricity grid.

Namburete claims that the country’s current access to electricity is 40% and that in 2004 only 7% of Mozambicans had electricity in their home. “This increase puts the country in top position in southern Africa in terms of new home electricity connections a year, and third in terms of access to electricity.” Only South Africa and Mauritius have higher percentages of access to electricity in their homes.

Between 2004 and 2014, he says, 70 district capitals were electrified, raising the number of districts reached by the national grid to 121 (out of 128) – or 95%. The remaining seven districts will be electrified by the end of this year.

The need for further generating capacity requires resources which are beyond the financial capacity of the Mozambican state, and this has led the country’s government to look for means of sharing the associated risks. One of the options for undertaking enormous electricity projects was the formation of public-private partnerships.