By Petronella Sibeene
NamPower, the local power utility, says it might have to procure diesel generators to complement electricity generation and supply to mitigate worsening power shortages that threaten to plunge Namibia and other SADC countries into darkness.
The growing demand for electricity has compounded matters and appears to have caught energy planners napping, causing an unprecedented crisis.
NamPower Managing Director, Paulinus Shilamba, yesterday said the power utility might have to procure generators that are capable of generating 50 megawatts and 150 megawatts as an interim and a short-term solution to the far-reaching power crisis.
Namibia at least needs an additional 200 megawatts in order to wean itself from imports from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia and become energy sufficient.
Shilamba disclosed that NamPower is in consultation with the Government for a possibility to procure and install additional generators at NamPower’s generation sites.
The exercise would cost millions of dollars, as the utility will have to import generators.
A 50-megawatt generator costs approximately N$350 million while a 150-megawatt generator could cost almost N$1 billion.
“We expect the Government to take a position on this matter in due course,” said Shilamba who further described the power situation at the moment as critical.
The power shortages in the SADC region have brought about panic in all spheres.
At business level, in South Africa billions of dollars have been lost in the past few weeks alone as load-shedding continues. Some mines have ceased operating.
At a business meeting yesterday morning hosted by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and NamPower, Shilamba could not ascertain whether Namibian businesses could also find themselves in the dilemma that has cost South Africa dearly.
“I cannot tell you if what is happening in South Africa could also take place here. We are lucky in Namibia that this (temporary closure of mines) has not happened yet,” he added.
Stopping planned mining projects would not be in the best interest of Namibia. NamPower and the mining institutions are in constant consultation on power supply options, the MD said.
“NamPower’s key objective is to ensure that Namibia retains its current rate of economic growth, hence NamPower will continue to supply electricity to the mining institutions,” Shilamba assured.
He, however, added that mines are likely to be affected the most because of the huge load requirements.
Existing mine load for Rǟ