By Khulile Thwala
The SADC Council of Ministers is looking at priority regional development programmes to end the power crisis in the region.
The Council met in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa, last week, where several issues affecting the region took the centre stage including the imminent energy crisis. This was high on the agenda at the meeting.
The Council of Ministers agreed that formulating a regional response to the power crisis is considered critical. Executive Director of the Southern African Power Pool Stephen Dihwa said they wanted to move away from a concept where a country develops power but a plan where an electricity project where countries partner is used to benefit the whole region.
“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,” said Dihwa.
He said they were 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.”
Ministers further 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. The 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 identified as priority regional development programmes.
It was stated that to facilitate the financing of transmission infrastructure, Council approved the development of instruments for establishing and operationalising a Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing facility.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries making concrete inroads in going green through investment in lithium mining. SADC Executive Secretary 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 can reduce import of products as well as the growth of our value chains,” noted Magosi.
Finding solutions to the power crisis is one of the key deliverables for SADC as the region works towards increased regional integration towards sustainable economic development.