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Understanding the regional dimensions of energy generation

June 2014

ENERGY IS not only a national issue in southern Africa, but incorporates significant regional dimensions.

The cross-border implications of energy generation and energy trading are not well understood, nor is the management role of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

SAPP is the coordination centre for most national electricity utilities in the region, and is located in Harare, Zimbabwe.

A project to deepen understanding of the regional dimensions of energy provision in southern Africa will be implemented in partnership with SAPP and SADC by the Regional Economic Development Institute of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), with support from the Austrian Development Agency.

The purpose is to strengthen the knowledge base and the cross-border flow of information on development of the energy sector in the SADC region comprising 15 Member States.

This includes tracking the development of hydroelectricity and other regional energy sources. Key activities include knowledge support to the SADC Energy Thematic Group, production of regional knowledge sources such as Southern Africa Today (SADC Today) and Southern African News Features, as well as new publications, the SADC Energy Monitor and the SADC Energy Investment Year Book.

The SADC Energy Monitor will track developments in the energy sector and implementation of commitments by Member States.

The proposed SADC Energy Investment Year Book will highlight investments in energy provision by the private and public sectors in the SADC region. Electricity generation is one area where regional cooperation has advanced significantly.

The SADC Energy Protocol which entered into force in April 1998 outlines the general principles and objectives in this regard.

The regional energy policy is centred on the interconnectedness between energy and economic growth and development.

The SADC region is richly endowed with energy resources with significant reserves of coal, petroleum and natural gas that can be exploited for local consumption as well as export.

Electricity in the region is generated mainly from thermal and hydroelectric resources, although natural gas is becoming a key energy source, especially in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Austria is the lead agency for SADC’s Energy Thematic Group of International Cooperating Partners, and the project will assist the work of the group through research and information support.

SARDC is an independent regional knowledge resource centre and a longstanding SADC partner in research and information, a collaboration rooted in a shared understanding of the importance of information access and communication to the achievement of regional integration and development, and the importance of "research that informs development".