Eswatini double-funded for COMESA/SADC cross-border electricity

 Eswatini double-funded for COMESA/SADC cross-border electricity

Eswatini double-funded for COMESA/SADC cross-border electricity.

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Eswatini will be a double-beneficiary from the $2.5 million grant for the advancement of the intra-regional harmonization of electricity regulations and drive cross-border power trading.

This trade will be across the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), covering 28 countries.

Eswatini is a member of both regional blocs, which places it in a position to benefit from both funds.

The project is funded by the African Development Bank for the regulatory environment in COMESA and SADC electricity markets. Of this amount, $1.46 million will be directed to COMESA and the rest $973 000 to SADC.

Statements recently issued by COMESA suggest that, “The grants will fund technical assistance to promote the development and adoption of regional electricity regulatory principles, enhance capacity to monitor utility performance across the region, conduct a cross-border analysis of electricity tariffs and develop a centralized database management system in both blocs.”

The Executive Director of Regional Energy Regulators Association of Southern Africa Elijah Sichone reportedly said the two projects will be implemented through a combination of studies, capacity building and development of tools with the aim to facilitate the harmonization of regulatory framework across the two regional blocs to enhance trade and improve access among their member states.

Upon completion, these projects will ensure that soft infrastructure requirement for the development of a regional power market are addressed to complement investments in hard infrastructure.

Both projects are in line with three of the Bank Group’s High-5 strategic priorities which are: Light up and Power Africa; Integrate Africa; and Industrialize Africa.  The projects also align with the Bank’s Regional Integration Strategic Framework (2018-2025) and the Southern Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper 2020-2026, particularly the infrastructure connectivity theme.

Eswatini has also developed an Energy Master Plan that presents further possible scenarios for new power generation capacity up to 2034.

The minister of natural resources and energy, Peter Bhembe, has entrusted the board to ensure energy security, make energy affordable and sustainable as well as ensure the timely delivery of the 40MW solar power generation and 40MW biomass projects by this date.

So far Eswatini has five IPPs operating power plants with a total installed capacity of close to 110 MW made up of hydro, biomass and solar PV plant technologies.

The rest of the electricity required, about 80 per cent, is imported from South Africa (Eskom) and 10 per cent occasionally Mozambique (EDM).

The Eswatini Electricity Company also owns a 9 MW diesel generator but due to high operating cost, the generator is mothballed and only used during emergency conditions.

Other local electricity projects carried out in Eswatini are the development of 10 megawatts which is funded by Power Africa and the U.S. Embassy.

According to then Power Africa Tracking Tool, Eswatini’s electricity access sits at 87 per cent on average. The urban area has an access of 95 per cent while the rural area has an access rate of 87 per cent.

Bonisile Makhubu

Bonisile Makhubu is a senior journalist at The Times of Swaziland Group of Newspapers, a company she has worked for over a period of 15 years now. She is based in the Eswatini News department which publishes the Saturday paper. She is also assistant Eswatini News Editor. In this department, she also ran the consumer watch column which focuses on consumer issues. Her specialty is investigative writing and reporting on health, education, women, and children’s issues, even though she has previously worked for the community news department and daily news department where she reported on courts, crime, and general news. She currently holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Eswatini and has attended a series of training programs on investigative journalism, reporting for SADC, and digital and online reporting. I have covered four SADC summits throughout the region. I have also traveled for short training and assignments in countries such as the US, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa while carrying out my duty as a journalist. Bing a mother of three children has also motivated her to remain dedicated to being the voice of the voiceless and to hold the public accountable and present truthful and educational information to the readers at all times.

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