While nearly 75 percent of Namibians in urban areas had access to energy in 2015, 76 percent of their fellow citizens in rural households still do not have electricity. This information is contained in the Fifth National Development draft report.
Only 50% of Namibian households nationwide currently have access to electricity. The draft report says the lack of access to energy remains a critical barrier to poverty alleviation and industrialisation.
In 2015, 63 percent of the energy requirement in Namibia was imported from neighbouring countries. The maximum domestically produced electricity capacity is around 656 megawatts. “Full capacity of local generation was not achieved due to climate and economic factors such as drought, refurbishment of machine intermittency of solar system,” it stated.
It further noted the use of alternative sources of energy, such as renewable energy, is still taking place at a small scale and contributes only 19.5MW (solar PV) to the national power grid.
The energy demand is expected to increase at a rate equivalent to the accelerated pace of economic activities and forecasted demand is expected to reach around 755 MW by 2022. “The mining, water pumping, agriculture and construction sectors, together with urban growth are expected to be major drivers of energy demand,” stated the report.
By 2022 Namibia will have in place adequate, affordable and reliable base load generation to support household and industry development and expanded local generation capacity, an increased national electrification rate and it will have adequate petroleum import and storage facilities, it says.
However, the challenges faced include the vastness of the country and small size of the country‘s power sector. It is further faced with the low load densities and long distances between major load centres. Moreover, the economic spending power of the majority of the rural population reduces the business case for private investment in this area.
Therefore, in order to achieve the milestone of electricity accessibility government will now expand bulk transmission and distribution infrastructure to transmit and distribute power to where it is required and where infrastructure must be built.
“This will entail land acquisition for generation, transmission and distribution projects, construction of new or upgrading of transmission and distribution lines and associated substations. This strategy aims at avoiding an over-reliance on imported energy by addressing domestic supply challenges,” it stated.
Government will likely also introduce competition into the energy sector to discourage monopolies and drive down costs. This will be achieved by modifying and improving the current market structure to avoid monopolistic behaviour.