Regional Strides in Power Generation

By Nawa Mutumweno – With power deficits hitting many countries in the region and beyond, a number of projects are springing up locally and across frontiers to alleviate the problem which has a devastating effect on development.

One massive project that cuts across frontiers is the ZIZABONA project involving Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia with strides currently at environmental impact assessment (EIA) level.

The project, an acronym for the four countries, is a $225 million transmission project that will develop new transmission lines to link the four neighbouring countries.

Committed to the success of the project are the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO),Botswana Power Company and Nampower.

ZIZABONA, which is expected to be completed in two phases between 2010 and 2013, would ease congestion on the transmission corridor to South Africa in addition to making it easier for the four countries to trade power with each other.

The first phase of the project would consist of the construction and development of transmission infrastructure in Zimbabwe and Zambia. About 91 km of 330-kV line between  the Hwange sub-station in Zimbabwe and a proposed switching station near the Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe will be constructed.

A further 14 km 330-kV line would then be constructed from the switching station to the   Zambia/Zimbabwe border. The Zambian authorities would simultaneously undertake the construction of a 14 km 330-kV line from a proposed Livingstone switching station to the Zimbabwe/Zambia border as well as reroute  the existing Victoria Falls power station 220 kV line into and out of the proposed Livingstone substation.

The second phase of the project would involve the construction of more transmission lines between Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia as well as the construction and extension of substations in these three countries.

Meanwhile construction of transmission lines of electricity from Zambia to the Tanzanian national grid is progressing well. The power will be transmitted from Serenje-Zambia through Mbeya, Dar es Salaam, Singida and Arusha-Tanzania to Nairobi-Kenya.

The project which is estimated to cost $650 million will be implemented in two phases of $300 million and $350 million respectively. It is anticipated that the project will convey 400 MW from Zambia to Tanzania and 300 MW from the Tanzanian national grid to Kenya.

It is hoped that the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya power transmission line will increase the amount of power available,  reduce power shortages, enhance security of supply and foster economic and regional integration.

Once the project is finalized, it will make Zambia have a strategic role in the East  African Community (EAC) and SADC member countries because of its geographical location  apart from encouraging investment in new hydro power generation projects.

The project covers a 700 km double circuit 330 kV transmission line from Zambia to Mbeya in Tanzania and a 260 km 330 kV transmission line between Arusha and Nairobi in Kenya. Financiers include the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). It will also help strengthen the ZESCO 66kV networks and interconnect TANESCO (the Tanzanian utility) to the SAPP grid.

Another project is the Southern Africa Power Market (SAPM) Project which covers the Zambia-DRC Interconnector. As part of the SAPM Project, an additional 220kV transmission line configured in dual-circuit arrangement is to be built to strengthen the existing electrical interconnection between Zambia and DRC. The project also includes the refurbishment of the converter station at Kolwezi and the AC transmission lines to Karavia and up to the border with Zambia.

The DRC side of the project is being financed by the World Bank and implemented by SNEL, the national utility of the DRC. Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) is financing and implementing the Zambian component of the SAPM project.

The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) was established in 1995 as a regional SADC body with the objective of optimizing the use of available energy resources in the region and supporting one another during emergencies. The arrangement also facilitates and develops power pooling and trade in the region.  The SAPP comprises 12 SADC member states utilities in exclusion of the two island member states of Madagascar and Mauritius. It facilitates optimal utilization of regional hydro and thermal energy resources and reduces capital and operating costs through coordination.

WESTCOR is a SADC project conceived through the combined initiative of the SADC  Secretariat and the power utilities of  Angola, Botswana, DRC, Namibia  and South Africa. The project’s aim is to harness the large water resources of the Congo River at Inga, to produce and supply electric power, initially for the five countries involved but ultimately to the whole SADC region. The project comprises the construction of a 3500 MW hydro electric dam, a transmission line and a telecommunications line. The participating utilities  have agreed an equity initial contribution of 20 percent of the total $500 000 required for initial studies to enable the project to be financed.

The Second 400 kV Zimbabwe-Botswana-South Africa Interconnector aims to increase the capacity of the existing interconnector up to 650 MW by constructing a second line from Insukamini substation in Zimbabwe via Phokoje substation in Botswana to Matimba substation in South Africa.

The Second Mozambique-Zimbabwe Interconnector aims at constructing a second 400kV interconnector from Songo substation in Mozambique to Bindura substation in Zimbabwe.

The Zambia-Namibia Interconnector aims to interconnect Zambia into the northern part Namibia at 220 kV. This will result in Zambia feeding into the northern part of Namibia in the Katima Mulilo area. Construction of this line is currently underway.

Other energy-related projects worth of note have included the SADC Regional Energy  Planning Network Project (REPN) whose long-term objective is to strengthen the capacity of national energy planning institutions to efficiently and effectively perform energy planning tasks, undertake energy forecasting and projections, and formulate energy projects. The project ended in February 2006.

The Regional Electricity Regulatory Association consists of six members – Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. The overriding objective of RERA is to facilitate the operation of the national electricity regulators to exchange information on their activities, identify areas of common interest and engage in regional cooperation in electricity regulation.

Having an efficient and effective petroleum and gas industry in the region  that fulfils its role of ensuring reliable supply of petroleum and gas products at least cost is the objective of the Regional Petroleum and Gas Association (REPGA).

The Rural Energy Planning and Environmental Management Project (REPEM) has  the main objective of contributing to the building of sufficient human resources for sustainable rural energy development, utilization and environmental management in the SADC region. This by project will contribute to the overall goal of improved quality of life for the poor rural population in SADC countries by enabling them to fulfil the energy needs of households and small-scale industries in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.  There is also the Programme for Biomass Energy Conservation (ProBec) which looks at effective and efficient usage of the resource.

That energy plays an integral development in national and regional development cannot be overemphasized. More financial and human resources are required to enable energy play its rightful role in the various economies in the region and beyond.