By Petronella Sibeene
The Inga III power project will top this year’s SADC energy ministers’ conference agenda as the Southern African region scrambles to find lasting solutions to a power crunch which looks set to stunt economic development.
It has emerged energy ministers from the Western Power Corridor Company (Westcor) will meet along the sidelines of the SADC energy ministers’ conference to be held in the DRC in April, to deliberate on the progress being made in developing the Inga power project.
The SADC energy ministers’ meeting has become an annual event on the region’s calendar.
Efforts by SADC countries to collaborate on energy matters have been heightened amid a startling electricity crunch, which observers say could reverse years of economic boom and social stability in the region.
Westcor chairman, Kahenge Simson Haulofu, in an interview with New Era said ministers from participating utility countries are expected to deliberate on the challenges faced by the Inga III power project.
Sceptics point out that similar power projects have gobbled up millions of dollars without delivering a single kilowatt of energy.
The current project is now at the point of capital commitment to complete the feasibility studies.
“This involves detailed designs and Westcor is now required to have on board first line operational staff.
“We are on plan and the first challenge is to get funds for the various consultants and advisors to get the required outputs complete and have the project ready for financial closure,” said Westcor chief executive officer, Pat Naidoo.
Angola, Botswana, Namibia, the DRC and South Africa formed Westcor, as a joint venture company, which seeks to exploit the potential in hydropower offered by the Inga River.
The project was initially mooted as a NEPAD priority.
The Westcor management said it hopes to take advantage of the World Energy Council’s financiers’ workshop to be held in London in April to secure funding.
Westcor said capital for the project could be obtained through securing international credit under the custodianship of the G8 community, the UN, the AU and NEPAD so as not to request too much equity from shareholders.
“The key deliverables from shareholders would be the power purchase agreements which will ensure confirmed revenue flows,” Naidoo said.
Initial feasibility studies indicate that power would start flowing from the Inga III project by 2012. Projections are that by 2020, the Westcor project would be delivering 15??????’??