ORANJEMUND – Energy starved Namibia’s electricity blues may soon become a thing of the past once the development of the long-delayed Kudu Gas project, estimated to cost a staggering N$260 billion, takes off late next year.
The Managing Director of Nampower Paulinus Shilamba expressed confidence that Namibia will soon be the ‘talk of the international community’ once attention is focussed on the development of the Kudu Gas project, which is also the most prominent and a top priority among the country’s capital projects. Shilamba, who was speaking at this year’s Diamond Festival in Oranjemund, said considerable progress has been made regarding negotiations with the regional take-off for the 400 Megawatts expected to be produced and that cannot be consumed by the country. “Negotiations with the South African Department of Energy as the procurer and Eskom as the buyer are ongoing. Negotiations with the CEC of Zambia for a Joint Development Agreement have been concluded and this agreement will be signed in due course. We expect the Final Investment Decision to be made by mid-2014, Financial Close by the end of 2014 and commercial operation by early 2018,” said Shilamba. The Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali, who delivered the keynote address during the festival, said Namibians should be mindful of the many opportunities that will be unlocked once construction of the energy plant commences, and added that residents should take full advantage of the strategic location of the town now that it has been proclaimed open and free to everyone.
With the anticipated influx of visitors to the diamond mines the town can now look forward to raising considerable revenue, which will boost the local economy significantly. He further advised residents of the town to market the town to investors and to showcase what they are able to do and to prove that Oranjemund is a destination for business and tourism. “Seize the opportunities to create, grow and sustain more employment and to thrive as individuals. There will be so many opportunities now that the town has been proclaimed. The need for properties such as accommodation and hotels, Swakopmund and Henties Bay are always attracting many people during holidays so you can change that trend, because you are so close to South Africa. South Africans can come here and even our land-locked neighbours such as Botswana,” he suggested. In remembrance of International AIDS Day he called upon residents to ensure that those who are not yet affected do not get affected and that those who are affected by the disease have access to medical treatment in order to prolong their lives.
Shilamba also explained that the Kudu Gas development will be the largest investment ever made in Namibia with significant economic benefits in store for the country. “I am sure you will take advantage of this opportunity to network and enter into smart partnerships with the project developers through joint ventures, sub-contracting or agreements regarding the provision of services to the them and the 1500 workers that will be employed by the project during the construction phase,” he advised. He also said he is confident that the Short-Term Critical Supply programme (STCS) under which the massive DSM programme covering the free installation of one million LED bulbs throughout the country is being rolled out will save a considerable amount of electricity. This programme will also promote the replacement of 20 000 electrical water heaters with solar water heaters through a rebate initiative, as well as negotiations with large customers for access to their standby diesel generators to support electricity demand.
This programme is expected to cost N$350 million and is expected to save a combined 110 megawatts over a period of five years. Shilamba also said that Nampower is in the process of rehabilitating the Van Eck Power Station to extend its lifespan by 10 years and replacing three turbine runners at the Ruacana hydro-power station to increase its installed capacity to 347 Megawatts. “Furthermore, we are in the process of negotiating with regional power utilities and IPPs for the conclusion of new power purchase agreements,” he said. Regional Councillor for Oranjemund Elifas Iita called on the newly elected town council to define its role and to understand that they (councillors) do not own the town, but that they should be accountable to the community. He also urged residents to move away from the job seeker mentality, to create jobs for themselves and to be mindful of the opportunities that will mushroom in the future.
By Jemima Beukes