In Southern Africa, SADC will market nine critical energy transmission projects valued at over US$4 billion to investors, according to officials attending a heads of state summit being held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. 

The nine projects are at various stages of development and include the flagship ZiZaBoNa Interconnector Project to be implemented by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

Other projects accorded high priority include the Central Transmission Corridor (CTC), the Mozambique Backbone Project, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Interconnector as well as the proposed Namibia-Angola Interconnector that will connect Tanzania and Angola to the Southern African Power Pool.

Driving corridor project

Director of Infrastructure and Services at the SADC Secretariat, Remmy Makumbe said a joint utility steering committee comprising officials from the Zimbabwe Electricity Authority (ZESA) and ESKOM of South Africa has been formed to steer the US$100 million CTC project and that draft terms of reference for technical and commercial teams have been developed.

Mr Makumbe said: “ZESA, in conjunction with ESKOM, is studying current network configuration and capacity, and is reviewing all possible technical options available for the CTC project to increase network transfer capacity.”

The project involves construction of power lines to increase the north-south transfer capacity of the Zimbabwean network from 200kV to 600kV. This corridor is critical for SADC, as most utilities in the region use the Zimbabwe network for their power wheeling.

Investor interest

The Southern African Power Pool, which coordinates the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity on behalf of utilities in the region, completed the tendering process for the ZiZaBoNa project in May 2013 and a number of investors are reported to have expressed interest in developing the electricity transmission interconnector.

The transmission interconnector project has the capacity to increase power trading among participating utilities, as well as providing an alternative route to decongest the existing central transmission corridor that passes through Zimbabwe.

Under the ZiZaBoNa agreement signed in 2008, power utilities of all four countries are expected to finance parts of the project that fall within their national boundaries, that is, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Namibia Power Company (NamPower).

The initial capacity of the transmission interconnector will be 300 megawatts (MW), which will be increased later to 600MW.

When fully operational, the ZiZaBoNa transmission interconnector will, among other things, make it possible for NamPower to import power to Namibia directly from Hwange in Zimbabwe. Currently electricity from the Hwange Power Station is routed to Namibia through South Africa.

Regional energy backbone

The Mozambique Regional Transmission Backbone project (STE) will consists of a double transmission line from the Tete Province in central Mozambique to the capital Maputo in southern Mozambique and the SAPP interconnected regional power network.

STE will transport the electricity generated in new hydropower plants from Mphanda Nkuwa (1500 MW) and Cahora Bassa (North Bank, 1245 MW) IN Mozambique to the markets.

The backbone will comprise a 400kV HVAC line and an 800 kV line to supply the major consumption zones within Mozambique and link with the South African market. Its estimated cost is US$2.8 billion.

SADC official Makumbe said negotiations of a joint development agreement are underway between Mozambican power utility and third parties. A special purpose vehicle is being established, with negotiations taking place on the shareholding.