The United States ambassador to Namibia, Wanda Nesbitt, has called on SADC countries to put in place mechanisms that will attract investors and pave the way for large-scale energy projects.
“The SADC region’s demand for energy is quickly outpacing generating capacity, and an energy crisis is a real possibility as is already evident in the frequent load-shedding and power outages in some [SADC] countries,” said Nesbitt on Monday during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Regional Electricity Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (RERA) underway in Windhoek.
“Energy regulators cannot solve all the problems, but one of the most important things you can do is to promote policies that will create an enabling environment,” she said.
Nesbitt encouraged SADC governments to make the development of regional renewable resources a top priority as the region looks to the future.
Clean energy can bring new jobs, create new livelihoods, support education and new businesses, healthier and productive lives, as well as reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change, she said, describing it as a winning formula.
Many people and places cannot get reliable access to affordable electricity even as abundant energy sources and clean energy sources remain unused.
SADC is blessed with large hydropower resources in the heart of the continent, and bright sunlight everywhere.
But only one in four households has reliable access to electricity today, said Nesbitt, adding that this means millions of children cannot study once it becomes dark and millions of men and women cannot do a simple thing like recharge their cell phones.
“Why does this gap persist? It is not a technological hurdle. We know how to harness that energy and deliver it to homes and businesses across Africa. It is because investors in this space often see obstacles and risks that discourage them,” she stated.
RERA’s tenth anniversary celebration in Namibia coincides with the association’s ninth annual general meeting (AGM).
The nine SADC member states that are members of the association are Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.