Namibia’s over reliance on power imports in the medium term to keep the lights on, remains under threat as major exporters of power to the country battle load shedding in their respective countries. Neighboring South Africa is battling cuts which have plunged most of the country into regular rounds of darkness.
The precarious state of Namibia’s imports is worsened by the fact that NamPower’s Eskom deal will expire in 2022, with the Zambia agreement due to end at the end of this month.
Its longest existing power import agreements is with the Zimbabwe Power Company, a company struggling to meet demand in Zimbabwe, an agreement due to expire in 2025.
Namibia’s position has seen government order power utility, NamPower to expedite its negotiations to increase imports from Zimbabwe, amid concern over the stability of power supplies into the country.
“NamPower is a net importer of electricity and imports about 60 percent of its energy requirement from Eskom (South Africa), ZESCO (Zambia), ZESA (Zimbabwe) and from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP),” NamPower’s Managing Director, Kahenge Simson Haulofu said, adding that talks with ZESA were still on-going.
Quizzed on the sustainability of the existing status quo of imports making up the bulk of the country’s power requirements, he said, “Namibia is a net importer of electricity and will continue that way until we have implemented the planned projects as outlined, in accordance with the NamPower Strategy and Business Plan 2019 – 2023.”
According to the NamPower strategy, the power utility has planned projects with capacity of 220 MW, of which Renewable Independent Power Producers will develop 70 MW of the 220 MW on a competitive procurement basis, while 150 MW will be developed by NamPower.
The 20MW Solar Omburu PV Power Project will be developed close to the town of Omaruru and the completion date for the power plant is planned for October 2020, the 40MW Lüderitz Wind Power Project will be developed close to the town of Lüderitz with a completion date for the power plant is planned for October 2022, with the 40MW Otjikoto Biomass Power Station to be developed close to the town of Tsumeb, with a completion date for the power plant planned for January 2023.
The 50MW Firm Power Project Firm (Anixas II) Power Station will be developed in Walvis Bay, with a project completion date planned for March 2022.
“Once all the projects have successfully been implemented on-or-before 2023, Namibia will be in a position to meet its target of generating 80 percent of its energy requirements from local sources in accordance with the national policies. The remaining 20 percent is to be filled by cheaper imports from the SAPP markets,” Haulofu said.
“NamPower, in line with the national policies (i.e., the national development plan - NDP5), the Harambee Prosperity Plan and Vision 2030, is striving to reduce imports gradually and become self-sufficient, but the cost of electricity to end consumers has to be safe guarded for it to remain affordable. The imports help to keep the electricity tariff within affordable limits.”
Asked about the high cost of power currently being sourced by the power utility from IPPs, Haulofu said,” Electricity tariffs for all major electricity suppliers are set by the Electricity Control Board (ECB). Perhaps you can direct the question to the ECB.”
Amid concern over the impact of high tariffs charged by IPPs on the cost of electricity in the country, South Africa has announced plans to review existing agreements in the country.
Namibia consumes about 4,500,000 MWh of power per year, energy consumed within Namibia sourced from various internal and external energy sources, internally being NamPower’s own generation plants and from renewable energy plants owned by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) within the country.
“Over the last couple of years, the power sourced from IPPs has reduced part of the bilateral contract imports.”