Story by Oleen Ndori
As the region seeks to find lasting solutions to the current power challenges, the SADC Council of Ministers is looking at priority regional development programmes to end the crisis.
The Council met in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa, over the weekend, where several issues affecting the region took centre stage.
High on the agenda was the energy crisis affecting the entire region, with calls to implement various regional interconnector projects such as the Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia (ZIZABONA) Project.
Formulating a regional response to the power crisis is considered critical.
Executive Director of the Southern African Power Pool Mr Stephen Dihwa said, “We want to move away from a concept where a country develops power, for example, the big INGA project in the DRC can be used to the benefit of the whole region and ensure adequate infrastructure to allow trade. We are running a regional power electricity market where energy is traded on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We believe us once we do this, the load-shedding will come to an end.”
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Fredrick Shava called on the Council of Ministers to facilitate the financing of these key regional power infrastructure projects.
“The Council of Ministers also considered issues to do with access to and supply of sustainable power in the Region. In particular, Council expressed concern over the slow implementation of various Regional interconnector projects despite the completion of technical feasibility studies. Among these are the Zimbabwe – Zambia – Botswana – Namibia (ZIZABONA) interconnector project and the Alaska – Sherwood project which is part of the Central Transmission Corridor. These projects were also identified as priority regional development programmes. In order to facilitate the financing of transmission infrastructure, Council endorsed the development of instruments for establishing and operationalising a Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing facility,” he said.
As Zimbabwe is making concrete inroads in going green through investment in lithium mining, SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Elias Magosi says such initiatives will go a long way in not only ending the electricity crisis, but also improving the energy and mining value chains.
“The Secretariat undertook a feasibility of regional power projects, if these projects are implemented well, they have the ability to reduce import of products as well as the growth of our value chains,” he noted.
Finding solutions to the power crisis is one of the key deliverables for SADC as the region pushes for increased regional integration towards sustainable economic development.