Maputo — Electricity consumption in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is growing at around three per cent a year, and this will require new capacity to generate an additional 20,000 megawatts over the next five years, according to Mozambique's Deputy Minister of Energy, Jaime Himede.
Speaking in Maputo, at the opening of a meeting of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the body that brings together electricity companies from across the region, Himede said that SADC countries must continue investment programmes to increase the availability of electricity. Only with guaranteed electrical power would it be possible to attract new industrial investment to the region.
Himede warned that an electricity deficit "threatens the growth of our economies. This deserves, from SAPP members, necessary attention and joint efforts in order to choose the best options and the priority projects that can be implemented in good time".
He noted that 1,230 megawatts were commissioned in 2012. Although he described this as a praiseworthy effort, it is nowhere near the level of investment required to keep up with growing demand.
The requirement for an extra 20,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the next five years "is a challenge to which nobody can remain indifferent", said Himede. "To achieve this, the electricity companies must be in the front line".
He added that although several SADC countries are interconnected there are constraints on the capacity to transmit electricity between the SADC member states, thus limiting the development of the regional energy market.
Himede thought it urgent to implement transmission projects such as the Mozambican electricity "backbone" (a new line from the Zambezi Valley to Maputo), the Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana Interconnection (Zizabona), and the Zimbabwe Central Transmission Corridor.
The chairperson of Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, Augusto Fernando, said that, despite the constraints, Mozambique increased its generating capacity by 100 megawatts in 2012, which he claimed was the largest increase in the region.
Fernando added that, by May 2014, a new gas-fired power station at Ressano Garcia will be producing around 275 megawatts.