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New SADC move to end Dar's power crisis

Mar 6, 2006 - The EastAfrican

The Southern African Power Pool is seeking funds to help Tanzania reduce the impact of a power crisis that has seen the country undergo a lengthy loadshedding programme. The Pool, which falls under the Southern African Development Community (SADC), wants Tanzania to tap into the Zambia power grid, Invocavit Swai, Director for Planning at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals told The EastAfrican last week. He said SADC has approached the New Partnership for Africa’s development (Nepad) for the funding for the project.

The Tanzania-Zambia Interconnect Project will intergrate Tanzania into the regional grid, giving Dar es Salaam the option of exporting its electricity surplus to Kenya. Mr Swai said a feasibility study on the project was complete and that the construction work would start as soon as the funding was available. He said a new intergovernmental memorandum of understanding was necessary because the power market had been liberalised in many countries, which had led to the emergence of new private power utilities such as the Independent Power Tanzania Ltd. "The power pool aims at fully utilising energy resources within SADC by covering deficits in generation capacity in the member states, which will use the amassed unutilised power," he said, adding that currently, only five per cent of the Community's grid electricity is traded.

With the current drop in power production, Tanzania is keen to see the project implemented as soon as possible, to enable it to fill the production gap left by its deteriorating hydro-electricity supply due to drought. To enhance the performance of the project, which was initiated in 1995, SADC ministers responsible for energy signed the Intergovernmental MoU to revitalise and accommodate new power utilities that were not in place when the project was being initiated 10 years ago.

The Pool is also undertaking the implementation of a priority generation and transmission projects spelled out in its 2005-2010 Strategic Plan, particularly those that address the impending deficit generation capacity in the region, particularly in the 2007-2009 period. It also aims at bringing on board countries that are not yet to be interconnected to the SAPP grid, among them Angola, Malawi and Tanzania.

The SADC member countries are also discussing the new West Coal Project in Angola, which is also known as the Western Corridor Project (Westcor). This aims at interconnecting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa.

Tanzania expects to import and re-export excess power to Kenya once the Westcor project is completed, as it will form the western power corridor with a capacity to produce 3,000 MW, which will also enable Angola's utility firm, ENE, to become an operating member of the pool.

Due to delayed rains, Tanzania's energy production is at it lowest, prompting the International Monetary Fund to allow the country to use debt relief funds for procurement of food and emergency power back up. The Fund has cancelled Tanzania’s debt worth $380 million. Tanzania's power utility, Tanesco, last week started the procurement, on emergency basis, of a total of 100MW power facilities.

Under the Pool, several projects have been commissioned since its inception 10 years ago. These include the Matimba-Phokoje-Insukamini 400KV project linking the Eskom company of South Africa and ZESA of Zimbabwe through BPC of Botswana, the completion of the 330KV Interconnect between Songo in Mozambique and Bindura in Zimbabwe in 1997, and the restoration of the 533KV DC lines between Cahora Bassa (Songo substation) in Mozambique and South Africa (Apollo substation) in 1998.

The project has also commissioned the 400KV line between Aggeneis in South Africa and Kokerboom in Namibia, completed the 400KV line between Arnot in South Africa and Maputo in Mozambique, and another 400KV line between Camden in South Africa via Edwaleni in Swaziland to Maputo in Mozambique.

According to Erkki Nghimtina, Namibia's Minister of Mines and Energy, the interconnections have increased the reliability of supply in the region and assisted in meeting the demand growth, which is driven by a rising population and increase in industries. Out of the nine members of the SAPP, seven have participated in the Short Term Energy Market, including one independent power producer (IPP). These utilities are BPC of Botswana, EDM of Mozambique, Eskom of South Africa, ZESCO of Zambia, NamPower of Namibia, SEB of Swaziland, and ZESA of Zimbabwe. The only IPP is HCB of Mozambique.

Updated: 2016/06/30

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