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The top priority of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the grouping of electricity companies of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, "is to find a timely solution to the problem of the energy deficit in our region", declared Mozambican Energy Minister Salvador Namburete at the opening on 26 April of a meeting of the SAPP Executive Committee in Maputo.
Demand for electricity in the SADC region is growing by about three per cent a year, said Namburete. This reflected increased economy activity, rural electrification, and the appearance of electricity-intensive mega-industries, such as the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo.
The looming shortage of electricity was worrying, said Namburete, "but we can take comfort from knowing that SAPP is leading the regional effort to reverse the situation". These efforts had led to a conference of investors in the SADC electricity sector, held in Namibia in September 2005, to select medium and long term electricity generation and transmission projects.
Mozambique would have a key role to play, largely because of the huge potential of the Zambezi Valley, which Namburete put at about 12,000 megawatts.
The top project, as far as Mozambique is concerned, is the construction of a new dam on the Zambezi at Mepanda Ncua, about 70 kilometres downstream from the existing dam at Cahora Bassa. The first phase of Mepanda Ncua could generate 1,300 megawatts, said Namburete, and phase two would raise this to 2,400 megawatts.
In addition, a north bank power station at Cahora Bassa could generate 850 megawatts (in addition to the existing south bank station which has a maximum capacity of 2,075 megawatts).
The massive coal resources of the Zambezi Valley could be used for a thermal power station at Moatize, generating 1,500 megawatts. Smaller hydroelectric projects at Lupata and Boroma could generate 654 and 160 megawatts respectively.
Namburete said there had been "noteworthy progress" in sales of power between SAPP member companies and subscribers to STEM (Short Term Energy Market) through the Coordinating Centre in Harare, "with direct benefits for our economies and citizens".
The Minister wanted to see regional integration in electricity go much further, through further interconnections between the various national grids. This, he said, "will certainly lead to optimal use of energy resources to the benefit of the public." The sustainable use of electricity, he added, was "a fundamental factor for the growth and development of the economies of the region".
News date: 25/07/2006