NamPower has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Angola worth N$800m which will see the state owned utility exporting electricity to that country despite being a net importer of power, The Villager has learnt.
The first phase of the ambitious engagement between the two countries that enjoy cordial relations politically and economically is expected to kick start in nine months’ time with Angola bankrolling the bulk of the project.
Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali and Managing Director of the utility Paulinus Shilamba have confirmed the development saying it was taken in a bid to cater for relationships between the two countries.
Ironically Namibia is surviving on power imports from Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Electricidade de Mozambique (EDC). In totality Namibia relies on 70% imported power at moderate consumption but the importation can reach 80% on peak periods.
Katali argued that although the exportation of power to Angola is viewed in bad light it is part of lending each other a helping hand and making it a win-win situation between the respective countries.
“It will not affect Namibia in anyway. How much help are we getting from Angola? Water in the North is coming from Angola. We are importing power from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Do you think they are having enough power for their own citizens? It is a co-operation between countries and if they need help, we help them. It is unfair to say if we do not have enough power supply in the country, we cannot supply electricity to a town close to our border. The electricity that will be exported was also bought and now it is just being sold,” said Katali.
Shilamba who signed the MoU with the Empresa Nacional De Electricidade for the Namibian utility to supply electricity to cross-border towns and settlements in Southern Angola said the country will afford to supply electricity to Angola because of the soon to open Kudu Gas station.
“By 2018 there will be a surplus of electricity because by then the Kudu Gas station will be up and running and it will have a total of 800 to 1000 megawatts. Namibia will make a profit from exporting power to Angola as we will get foreign currency since the Angolans use US Dollars,” he said.
Shilamba revealed that the infrastructure will cost between NS$700m to N$800m. It is envisaged to be completed in the next three to four years after which the generated power will be supplied to 25 villages in Angola as well as some villages in northern Namibia.
“Angola will however be getting 400 to 500 megawatts and the rest will be for Namibia and also export to other countries,” he said.
On 21 May this year NamPower held a meeting in Calai where they deliberated on the way forward and the project update was provided to the provincial government of Angola where they made a decision to go ahead with the project in line with the MoU that was signed earlier this month.
Shilamba also argues that despite the dire electricity situation in the country, Namibia can afford the luxury of exporting power to Angola. “We can afford to supply power to Angola because not all points will be connected immediately, some of them will be connected over a period of two to three years”.
The Villager also understands the project will involve the upgrading of power supply to supply points in the Cuando Cubango Province which include Calai, Cuangar, Dirico and Micuso villages but the extension is expected to pass to 20 more provinces in Angola.
Former Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Control Board, Siseho Simasiku said it is only rational that countries in SADC share the few resources that they have.
“It is not an issue of advisable but it is a policy for Sadc countries to share their resources. That is the law in the Sadc to help those who cannot make ends meet. If you look at Zambia when it was under pressure, they had little resources but still shared” said Simasiku.
The rationale behind the supply of electricity to Angola, according to Simasiku, is further strengthened by the location of the Ruacana Power plant which makes it reasonable for Namibia to supply electricity to that country.
“Personally I do not have anything against it,” Simasiku said.
According to Simasiku Namibia similar to other SADC countries have problems with electricity but yet other countries share, “It is only logical that Namibia also shares electricity with other countries such as Angola.”
Meanwhile Namibia has been looking at possibilities of renewable energy in order to improve generation capacity for domestic consumption. Namibia is also mooting other side projects that will supplement power shortages that have been affecting the country.