ROSH PINAH – Energy minister Tom Alweendo and Rosh Pinah residents have all separately concluded that multimillion dollar investments into new energy generation plants are only a portion of what is needed to provide affordable electricity to all Namibians. “It is of no use to have power which nobody can afford, so affordability is very important and we must ensure that electricity is affordable to all,” said Alweendo at the recent inauguration of the N$120 million solar energy plant in Rosh Pinah. Alweendo said electricity is no longer a luxury and thus all Namibians should have access to affordable electricity.
Residents in Rosh Pinah spoke to New Era of their dissatisfaction that despite having a solar plant, electricity tariffs remain high, saying it is disappointing that residents will not benefit directly from the solar plant as it is connected to the national grid.
Alweendo’s concern is that independent power producers (IPPs) are focused on producing electricity to sell to NamPower, saying there is a need to find other ways by which electricity can be brought to people without the involvement of NamPower.
“We must get to a point where power generated is sold directly to the consumer, without a third party involved, and this is something we need to think about and not just do things as they have been done in the past,” Alweendo said.
Oranjemund Constituency Councillor Lazarus Nangolo also expressed his disappointment that Rosh Pinah residents will not directly benefit from a project that is basically in their backyard. Nangolo said unlike the N$180 million wind farm commissioned at Lüderitz, in which the Lüderitz Town Council is a minority shareholder, which will benefit the local people of the town, the Rosh Pinah solar plant does not in any way benefit the local people directly.
“Our solar plant does not benefit us directly, we will still pay a lot of money for our electricity, and this is unaffordable for many,” said Nangolo.
“We understand this is not just our plant but is for all Namibians, but we had hoped that because the plant is in our area this could reduce the price of electricity, but this is not the case, so what is the use that we have it, how does it improve our living conditions?” asked Paulus Harusanga, a resident of Tutungeni informal settlement.
“We were happy when we heard there is a solar plant being constructed, we thought the electricity will finally be cheaper, but I understand that is unlikely, just imagine we pay N$40 for about 17 units, it is just too expensive for some of us,” said Maria Shekupe. In his speech during the inauguration Alweendo emphasised the need to make electricity affordable for all, saying electricity can no longer be just for some.
He said while Namibia is moving in the right direction in an effort to produce its own electricity, especially through public-private partnerships, this is of no use if ordinary Namibians still remain without electricity due to unaffordability.
The solar plant was constructed at a cost of about N$120 million by Namibian company Aloe Energy Investment, in partnership with Spanish company AEE Power.
Alweendo further said Namibia needs to find ways to produce more of its own electricity, adding that importing more than half of its electricity is not sustainable and thus Namibia should strive towards producing more electricity in the near future.
He added that power generation is of utmost importance, and that for Namibia to achieve its goals of being an industrialised country, production of electricity remains key in achieving that, and there can be no development without power.
“The current situation is not a position we want to be in, it is not sustainable, so in the next four to five years we want to reverse the situation so that we produce 60 to 70 percent of our electricity, because without power and water our visions will never be realised,” he said.