THE Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa (Rera) said lack of access to electricity in rural areas in the Sadc region has hampered economic development.
Source: Power shortages hamper Sadc economic development – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 7, 2016
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This was revealed by Rera representative Elijah Sichone in Harare on Saturday, while presenting a paper on the role and importance of energy towards Sadc’s development and integration to legislators at the Sadc Parliamentary Forum’s 40th plenary assembly currently in session.
Sichone said lack of energy sources like electricity has resulted in Sadc falling behind other regional economic activities in Africa regarding access to electricity. Electricity access in rural areas in the Sadc region is said to be at 5%.
“While 24% of the region’s residents have access to electricity, 36% of the eastern power pool area’s residents are connected, as are 44% of the Western African power pool’s residents,” Sichone said.
“An electricity shortage has strained the region since 2007, and although this shortage is expected to be corrected by 2014, projects intended to address the shortage lag behind deadlines due to lack of funding,” he said.
Sichone said low tariffs, poor project preparation, issues with power purchase of agreements, and absent regulatory frameworks stunted investment and financing in the energy sector.
“Coal supplies 75% of power generation in Southern Africa, but was considered a contributing factor to global warming. Weak infrastructure and foreign commitments inhibit use of the region’s abundant petroleum and natural gas resources.”
Pricing and infrastructure hurdles such as grid connections, manufacturing and quality testing were also said to impede development of the region’s renewable energy potential.
Sichone said regional development, integration and cooperation can help to reduce the utility infrastructural and service costs, and form part of the solution towards increasing access to utility services, which in turn could help to create employment and reduce the high levels of poverty.
“One cannot over emphasise the need to have coherent regional visions, policies, plans, strategies, codes and standards that can instil confidence and a sense of security, and demonstrate the tangible benefits to enable countries embrace regional development and integration initiatives,” he said.