Namibia’s power secured - Shilamba
Nampower Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paulinus Shilamba dismissed claims that the country’s current power shortage is caused by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)’s inability to honour a 15-year 80 megawatt (MW) Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) due to technical issues at the country’s leading power stations.
The Financial Gazette in Zimbabwe reported that that country will endure its darkest winter season in history as it would be unable to augment domestic electricity supplies with imports. In addition, the newspaper reported that ZESA Holdings is already faced with a 400 MW plunge in generation capacity at the Kariba power station occasioned by the fall in water supplies in the Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe’s biggest electricity generator following a prolonged drought in southern Africa.
Shilamba said the agreement between Nampower and ZESA signed in November is still intact, despite media reports that the Kariba South Hydro-power station is unable to generate enough power due to the fall in water levels in the Kariba dam.
“The agreement between the two countries is a ‘take and pay’ agreement, meaning the 80MW will be delivered regardless of the situation in Zimbabwe, or Nampower will not pay”, Shilamba said.
He further explained that the power shortages were caused by a break of the powerline on the Zimbabwean side, which made it impossible for them to transfer power.
“The power-sharing deal has been fully-operational since April 2015. However, last week we unfortunately lost a voltage transformer, resulting in the stranded power”, he noted, adding that the power shortages intensified after South Africa’s Eskom cut all power supplies to Namibia.
“As I am sure you are aware, South Africa is experiencing a power dilemma themselves, so due to the broken voltage transformer and Eskom’s complete cut-off, Nampower was left to face a very challenging ordeal, hence the load-shedding announcement”, he stated.
In addition, Shilamba said efforts are being made to ensure that the country has sufficient power.
“We are looking to the agreements we have with countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to supplement the Ruacana and Van Eck power stations and ensure that we can adequately execute our mandate”, he noted.
He said load-shedding was received with a lot of misconceptions, adding that people should understand that Nampower does not control Acts of God.
“We do not control Acts of God, so if a powerline is damaged by forces of nature, the best we can do is to ensure that they are fixed as soon as possible. However, these things are inevitable”, he said.
He further added that if all equipment are working properly, then Namibians need not worry about load-shedding until at least the middle of next year.
Meanwhile, media reports also stated that Zambia, which shares the same water resource for its electricity production, has already cut generation by 300MW, and warned last week that this could further go down by as much as 600MW due to the water situation in the Kariba Dam.
The new PPA between NamPower and the Zimbabwean Power Company (ZPC) was formed as part of the latter’s strategy to raise funding to enable them to expand the Kariba South Hydro-Power Station in Zimbabwe by 300MW.
The current capacity of the power station is approximately 700MW, and will be about 980MW after the expansion. According to the agreement’s financing institution Standard Bank, the first three years of the agreement are valued at N$500 million.
In 2006, NamPower and ZESA Holdings signed an agreement to jointly rehabilitate the Hwange Power Station in Zimbabwe. When NamPower availed U$40 million (about N$440 million) funding for the project, as repayment ZESA provided NamPower with 150MW for a period of eight years.
The PPA with the ZPC after the agreement between NamPower and ZESA Holdings on the Hwange rehabilitation project expired in February 2015.
By Hileni Heita