by Kizito Sikuka in Johannesburg, South Africa
Electricity is a common challenge. Whether one is in a posh hotel in Johannesburg or a high-density suburb in Harare, Windhoek, or any other city in southern Africa, one thing is almost certain to happen – a power cut.
The provision of reliable and sustainable energy continues to be a priority for southern Africa’s development agenda.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been experiencing energy shortfalls for more than a decade due to growth in demand, forcing most countries to implement demand side management programmes such as load shedding.
THIS YEAR alone, the region plans to commission a total of 2,763 megawatts (MW) of new electricity to the regional grid. Most of the power will come from South Africa which will add 1,828MW while the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to add a further 430MW.
Another important measure is for the region to revive electricity regulation to attract investment in the sector.
SADC adopted the principle of cost-reflective tariffs as far back as 2004. However, most countries are failing to migrate to cost-reflective electricity tariffs due to challenges in raising local tariffs to cushion consumers.
The ministers called for an increase in Demand Side Management (DSM) programmes to allow the region to address its energy challenges in the short term, while mobilizing resources to develop new power generation projects that will add more electricity to the regional grid.