Mozambique’s Minister of Energy, Salvador Namburete, warned on Thursday that, at the current pace of economic and social development, Mozambique will need to increase its electricity generation capacity by at least 100 megawatts a year.
This figure does not include the energy required for any further mega-projects, and does not include the export of electricity.
Speaking in Maputo, at the opening of a conference on “Powering Africa: Mozambique”, Namburete stressed that increased access to electricity, through expanding the national grid to cover all 128 districts, allows more dynamic economic and social development.
He added that so far 110 district capitals have been connected to the grid. 25 per cent of the Mozambican population now has access to the grid, while a further 13 per cent enjoy electricity from solar panels. Thus total access has now reached 38 per cent, compared with just seven per cent in 2004.
“It’s an unquestionable fact that Mozambique has a vast energy potential, including hydro-electric power, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as wind and solar power”, Namburete said. “The contribution of renewable sources to the national energy matrix has been increasing in recent years”.
In the domain of hydro-electricity, the Minister continues, Mozambique holds the second position in the Southern African region, with an identified potential for generating over 12,000 megawatts. But the installed hydro-electric generating capacity is only 2,300 megawatts, most of which (2,075 megawatts) is accounted for by the Cahora Bassa dam
The vast proven reserves of coal, mostly in Tete province, potentially make Mozambique one of the world’s largest coal producers. Namburete said that investment is now under way to use some of the thermal coal to produce electricity. No fewer than four coal companies have plans to build coal-fired power stations.
As for natural gas, Namburete stressed that gas fired power stations run by the British company Aggreko, using the gas from the Pande and Temane fields in Inhambane province, and already in operation, plus further stations on the drawing board, will allow 400 megawatts to be generated from gas in the Ressano Garcia area, on the border with South Africa, by 2014.
Recent discoveries indicate that there are reserves of over 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado. Namburete said this provides an opportunity for more power stations in the north of the country, each generating between 200 and 1,000 megawatts.
New hydro-electric projects on the drawing board promise a great increase in hydro-power, increasing the availability of electric power for the domestic market, and providing a surplus for export. The main such projects are a north bank power station at Cahora Bassa (1,245 megawatts), and dams at Mpanda Nkuwa (Phase I, 1,500 megawatts, and phase II, 900 megawatts), Borama (200 megawatts), Lupata (600 megawatts) and Lurio (120 megawatts).
But to make the various energy initiatives a reality will require investments that go way beyond the financial capacity of the Mozambican state. Hence attracting private investment is of key significance, declared Namburete.