Power interconnection hurdles deprive Sadc

Power interconnection hurdles deprive Sadc

Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries, including Malawi are facing an 8 444 megawatts (MW) electricity deficit due to interconnection challenges within the region.

Regional Energy Regulators Association (Rera) of Southern Africa executive director Elijah Sichone said this in Lilongwe on Friday on the sidelines of a week-long meeting hosted by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).

He said surplus energy in countries like Tanzania and Angola are isolated from the regional grid, impeding Rera’s efforts to close the energy gap.

Sichone, who is based in Windhoek, Namibia, said: “The interconnected nations alone face a shortfall of nearly 10 578MW, which is a substantial gap. Our current meetings are centered on strategising for this issue, with a follow-up in September to assess our progress and ensure our responsiveness as regulators.”

He said the regulators are addressing energy security, investment growth, diversification of energy sources, and improving access for the region’s underserved populations.

Mera director of electricity and renewable energy regulation Patrick Kadewa shared insights on the Malawi Electricity Access Project, a World Bank-funded initiative aimed at accelerating connections.

He said the project anticipates adding 180 000 customers to the country’s existing base of 600 000.

Kadewa said there are ongoing transmission projects within the southern Africa power pool, including a nearing completion line between Zambia and Tanzania, and Malawi’s plans to connect with Zambia.

“Before the completion, we can route power through Mozambique to Malawi, albeit with wheeling charges. Once the connection is established, we can tap into Tanzania’s surplus power,” he said.

Kadewa observed that the Malawi-Mozambique power interconnection is a key step towards purchasing power from the regional pool.

Taking his turn, Sadc Centre for Renewable Energy Regulators Association of Southern Africa executive director Kudakwashe Ndhlukula said the low access of energy in the region is a serious issue.

He said on average, only 51 percent of people have access to clean and modern energy services of electricity, adding that the region has a challenge of energy security whether electricity, petroleum and gas.

Mera hosted portfolio and subcommittee meetings of Rera in Lilongwe from May 6 to 10 May.

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