Southern African News Features                                           
Communicating Energy project to support Southern Africa Power Pool

Media Release
from SARDC, 7 May 2009

The Government of Norway has signed an agreement to the value of 3 million Norwegian kronos to strengthen understanding of the regional dimensions of energy provision in southern Africa.

The project on Communicating Energy in Southern Africa will be implemented by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in partnership with the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

The purpose is to strengthen the knowledge base and the cross-border flow of information on the development of the energy sector in the 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This includes tracking the development of hydroelectricity and other regional energy sources.

The project, which had a pilot phase in 2008, will be implemented for a further two-year period, and will also look at alternative energy sources through a Basic Energy Survey.

While SADC attaches significant importance to all energy sources, whether renewable or non-renewable, the electricity sector is one area where regional cooperation has advanced significantly.

With some of Africa’s fastest expanding economies, the SADC region had been projected to run out of surplus electricity generation capacity in 2007/8.

The Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) is the Coordination Centre for most national electricity utilities in the region.

Norway is the lead agency for SADC’s Energy thematic group of International Cooperating Partners (ICPs), and the project will assist the work of the group through research and information support.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy was represented by Kristian Lřkke, the Energy Counsellor at the embassy in Mozambique where Norway’s regional energy support programme is located. Phyllis Johnson, Executive Director of SARDC, which has offices in Harare and Maputo and national partners throughout the SADC region, signed the agreement on behalf of SARDC.

SARDC is an independent regional knowledge resource centre and a longstanding SADC partner in research and information, a collaboration rooted in a shared understanding of the importance of information access and communication to the achievement of regional integration and development, and the importance of "research that informs development".

The project will make use of new research and existing tools such as the publication, SADC Today, and the regional news service, the Southern African News Features.

A SARDC innovation is its Virtual Library for Southern Africa which provides free internet access to regional data and information in searchable format through and is linked to the SADC website.

The SADC Energy Protocol which came into force in April 1998 outlines the general principles and objectives that the region has towards energy. The regional energy policy is centred on the interconnectedness between energy and economic growth and development in the region.

The SADC region is richly endowed with energy resources with significant reserves of coal, petroleum and natural gas that can be exploited for local consumption as well as export. Electricity in the region is generated mainly from thermal and hydroelectric resources. Natural gas is increasingly becoming a key energy source especially in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania, countries that are investing in their natural gas fields.

Given the region’s relatively small urban population, the majority of people (about 75 percent) in SADC still rely on biomass fuel in one form or the other as their main source of energy. Thus a relatively small number of people have access to commercial energy sources.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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