Southern Africa: SADC Renewable Energy Strategy Key to Sustainable Energy for All

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Southern Africa has the potential to achieve universal access to modern energy services if the region puts in place a sound and vibrant strategy to harness its huge renewable energy resources.

Meeting in Maseru, Lesotho, the 33rd SADC Energy Ministers meeting said the development of a renewable energy strategy will, among other things, ensure that the Southern African Development Community is able to effectively manage and exploit the natural resources that are in abundance in the region.

As such, member states should speed up the process of finalizing the SADC Renewable Energy Strategy and Action Plan (RESAP) that was mooted a few years ago.

“We note that renewable energy is an integral part of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and urge member states, assisted by the SADC Secretariat, to mobilize resources to finalize the SADC Renewable Energy Strategy and Action,” the energy ministers said in a statement released after their meeting.

The development of the RESAP was initiated by the SADC Secretariat in close cooperation with the government of Finland.

Its main aim is to explore options to increase the use of renewable energy in southern Africa, and to ensure that the region’s energy strategy is in line with the global trends towards clean and alternative energy sources.

Renewable energy sources, including solar, hydro and wind, are less polluting to the environment compared to fossil fuels such as coal.

Furthermore, fossil fuels will not last forever, hence the need for southern Africa to prepare for the future and intensify efforts to harness its huge renewable energy resources.

SADC has an abundance of renewable energy sources, which if fully harnessed, will see the region being able to meet most its energy needs.

For example, the overall hydropower potential in SADC countries is estimated at about 1,080 terawatt hours per year (TWh/year) but capacity being utilised at present is just under 31 TWh/year. A terawatt is equal to one million megawatts.

According to the SADC Secretariat, most countries have only harnessed a small fraction of their hydropower resources, and that less than three percent of the total potential in the region has been harnessed.

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