Maputo — Currently 38 per cent of the Mozambican population have electricity in their homes, as compared with just seven per cent in 2004, according to the Minister of Energy, Salvador Namburete.
Speaking on Thursday in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Namburete said that this electricity coverage is above the average figure for sub-Saharan Africa, of 30.5 per cent, and puts Mozambique in third position among the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), behind Mauritius and South Africa.
Nine million Mozambicans have electricity – six million from the national grid based on the Cahora Bassa dam, and three million from solar panels.
Namburete was answering a question from the parliamentary group of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which protested against the alleged high price and poor quality of Mozambican electricity.
He said that the tariff policy practiced by the public electricity company, EDM, had been designed to ensure that funds are available to step up rural electrification, to increase access to electricity for an ever larger number of Mozambicans, and to ensure that undertakings dependent on electricity would be economically and financially viable.
He stressed that EDM charges the same price for electricity everywhere in the country. This was a cross-subsidy, whereby the income that EDM raises in profitable areas (such as the major cities) is redistributed to the unprofitable areas, “thus ensuring the simultaneous electrification of the entire country, in order to stimulate more integrated and balanced development”.
Namburete said that the electricity grid now covers 109 of the 128 district capitals. The latest district to be electrified is Mabote, in Inhambane province, where tests on the new electrical installations are currently being carried out. The remaining 19 district capitals should be electrified by 2014.
As for improving the quality of electricity, Namburete stressed that, over the last seven years, more than 57,000 kilometres of transmission lines had been built. EDM was also providing back-up power lines – building second lines “to guarantee safety, reliability, quality, and continuity in the supply of electrical power if one of them should break down”.
Twelve new sub-stations had been built, and the capacity of the Maputo sub-station had been increased. EDM was also introducing split meters – which are electricity meters that cannot be hacked into for clandestine connections.
A wide variety of new electricity generating projects were on the drawing board, said Namburete, “which will contribute to increasing the availability, stability and reliability of electrical power”.
The entire programme for improving the quality of electricity throughout the country, including the training of EDM staff, particularly in preventive maintenance, is costed at more than 2.7 billion US dollars.
On top of that, said the Minister, EDM is losing about 12 million dollars a year through the theft of electricity in illegal connections to the grid, and through vandalism of electrical equipment (usually to steal metallic cables and parts).
Deputies of the former rebel movement Renamo asked Namburete who would take responsibility for the damage to vehicles caused by the contaminated petrol that was recently sold in Maputo and Matola.
He replied that the fuel distribution companies are shouldering this responsibility. To date, 140 vehicles have been registered with breakdowns that can be attributed to the contaminated fuel. Namburete said that so fare the fuel distributors have paid for the repair of 67 of them, at an average cost of 30,000 meticais (1,000 dollars) each.
“The contaminated petrol has been isolated and is undergoing laboratory analysis by specialist bodies”, said Namburete. “The tanks have been washed out, and clean petrol has been on sale since 28 October”.