Electricity supply: Liberalisation essential

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23 August 2018 | Energy

Otis Finck

“The protection of territories by power utilities like NamPower and Erongo RED is a challenge,” Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua told delegates at the Electricity Supply Forum (ESF) in Swakopmund on Thursday. “Companies want to ensure that their bottom line is not affected in any way. They do not want their areas of operation to be encroached upon, and we tend to protect and preserve what we have at whatever expense and consequences.”

Mutjavikua further said that Namibia just like many other African countries, faces daunting challenges due to supply deficits, ageing infrastructure, fast growing economies and a rise in electricity prices. He added that the pressure to supply electricity at an affordable rate while the cost of generating and distributing electricity is rising.

“The need to develop the electricity sector is vital for broader economic growth and social development. To mitigate the electricity challenges faced today, Namibia must strive towards investing in a reliable base load power generation plant. Government efforts to turn the country into an energy exporter should also be complimented.”

The governor also called for a reversal of Namibia’s dependence on electricity from other countries saying it is crucial that the country explore ways to become self-sufficient. He questioned why Namibia cannot become an electricity power house in Africa, suggesting that this can be done by investing in solar, wind and any other variable energy sources. “Namibia’s wind velocity is excellent, the sunrays are considered amongst the best in the world and the country is also amongst the top uranium producers. With the abundance of all these natural resources at our disposal, the country should be able to reverse its electricity dependency and fuel economic emancipation.

“This will not only avoid dependency on foreign electricity imports but will also improve living standards and catapult our economy. Being too dependent on other countries when it comes to electricity is not just an economic risk but a security risk as well. Reports of protest and load shedding in neighbouring South Africa worries us because we are reliant on them for our power supply.”

He called on politicians and corporate leaders to find ways to work together in finding solutions to build a sustainable nation. “A company like Groupe PSA, the second largest car manufacturer in Europe, is planning to set up a vehicle assembly plant in Walvis Bay. We have granite and marble, but these products are leaving the country unprocessed due to the excuse that Namibia does not have sufficient electricity supply for processing purposes. Those doing it currently are doing so at a huge cost for electricity. We also reallocated land for the establishment of an oil refinery and this will need a lot of energy. A robust electricity industry as well as friendly electricity tariffs is thus crucial to attract investors.”

Mutjavikua further highlighted the need to intensify the rural electrification process to ensure a greater number of participants to electricity.

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