AfDB promotes renewable energy investment in Swaziland

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) will issue a grant of US $990,000 to finance three studies under an energy sector support programme in Swaziland. The objective of the programme is to provide technical assistance to Swaziland aimed at promoting investment in the electricity supply industry to expand reliable energy supplies and enhance the country’s electricity access rate. The Bank and the Government of Swaziland/Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) will jointly finance the project, with the Bank’s funding representing 93.1% of the total project cost.

Specifically the project involves the production of a hydropower plant prefeasibility study that will provide a basis for decisions around future hydropower development; a review and analysis of solar and wind resource data and capacity building to promote the development of wind and solar energy resources; and updates to the Energy Policy and the National Energy Policy Implementation Strategy to provide a fresh policy framework for efficient development of the energy sector.

“We know that there is significant scope to develop renewable energy sources in Swaziland – firewood, wood-waste, bagasse, hydropower and renewables like solar and wind. With this project we hope to find ways to harness that potential and address some of the primary challenges around limited energy access such as low energy resources, limited investment in power generation and excessive reliance on imported power. This will in turn attract private sector investment in the sector,” said Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department.

The three studies at the heart of the energy sector support programme will provide critical information and guidelines for investors interested in engaging in the renewable energy sector. The expected outcomes of the project include increased power generation capacity with the participation of the private sector; increased electricity generation from wind and solar; and reduced reliance on imported power. Over the long term, this should lead to more sustainable supply and use of energy for the benefit of all citizens of the country.

The main concerns for the sector relate to security of supply, increasing rural electrification, the potential tariff increases due to the country’s dependency on imported energy from the SADC region and the imminent shortages of power. Currently available energy services are not sufficient to meet the needs of Swaziland’s population. As of 2013, the country’s overall electrification rate was estimated at 55% of which urban households accounted for 65% and rural households 45%. Swaziland consumed a total of 1,347 GWh of which 240 GWh (18%) was supplied through Swaziland Electricity Company, 284 GWh (21%) from sugar companies largely for own use and 822 GWh (61%) from imports mainly from Eskom of South Africa and EDM of Mozambique.

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