Solution on power needed immediately

September 10, 2015, 10:38am

Solution on power needed immediately

There is a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over the country regarding the looming power deficit and the subsequent inability to deal with it in an amicable manner that can assure industry sustainability and production.

It is ironic that last week, revelations in the media that the country’s supposed only answer to the power deficit, the Kudu Gas Power plant, is going to be shelved because it is not sustainable, or does not have viability.

It is a good sign when Ministers debate in Cabinet about national projects of the Kudu magnitude, as it shows a healthy sharing of ideas. However, we ought to find the best solution for the country when it comes to dealing with power shortages.

A country without a sufficient supply of power will only but dream of having a vibrant industry, and at the same time will only but wish to grow its economy significantly as power controls all forms of production.

While it is important that the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, is raising concerns about the bankability of the project and the Minister of Mines, Obeth Kandjoze, says he wants a thorough relook into the way forward, what is more significant is that Government needs to find a lasting solution.

Government also needs to once and for all put their mouth where the money is. If the final conclusion is that Kudu will not see the light of day, then perhaps what is needed is to pus the second plan forward. The Government ought to pronounce itself on whether it is practical financially to drive the project. It also needs to assess the viability of such a project, should it be undertaken.

While media reports remain, it is also important for the two ministries involved in the supposed ‘spat’ about the project to publicly announce their feelings, and let the Namibian nation know where they stand. It is also imperative that the Government consults widely, starting with the power distribution industry, the benefiting industries like the mining sector which consume the bulk of the electricity, and also consumers, who bear the brunt of consuming imported power.

Perhaps in addition to a White Paper on power written to find solutions, there is also a need for a power indaba to deliberate openly on the best options to take going forward. Schlettwein and Kandjoze, on the other hand, should also put their heads together and map out ways to deal with the challenges that might be associated with the project.

The reality is that the rest of the region is facing a serious crisis and sooner rather than later, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo will make the decision to prioritise their needs before catering to anyone else.

Such a decision will be detrimental to this country. Wasting another precious second bickering about the feasibility, sustainability or practicality of the project only shows that poor planning was done on this project. The issues being debated now could have been raised ages ago and dealt with a long time ago.

Namibia needs a solution on power, not another bickering escapade while time runs out, as it’s the last thing the Government can be engaged in.