Southern Africa and Regional Electricity Crisis

Published on 6th September 2011

SOUTHERN AFRICAN POWER POOL (SAPP) REGIONAL ELECTRICITY GENERATION CRISIS AND IMPLICATIONS

By

Nyasha Kaseke (PhD Student- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University- Department of Economics and Economic History)
and
Stephen G.Hosking (Prof) (Lecturer- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University- Department of Economics and Economic History)

Introduction

Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) like Africa faces major infrastructural challenges in electricity generation and supply. Not only is the region’s energy infrastructure meagre compared to other regions, but the electricity supply is unreliable. The entire generation capacity of the region is 48649 Megawatts (MW). If South Africa is excluded the installed capacity is about 35959 MW (UNDP 2009).

The region’s generating capacity has been stagnant for many years and although there has been an increase in economic growth, this has not matched those rates achieved in other developing countries (Yepes, Pierce & Foster 2008:12). To make matters worse, as much as one-fourth of the region’s plant is currently not in operating condition (World Bank 2008:76). In most SAPP members, the generation challenges are; natural causes (drought), systems disrupted by conflict and high growth in demand coupled with now investment in electricity infrastructure.

The main objective is to assess the generation capacity in the SAPP region and the implications of the low generation capacities given abundant resources. The study start by providing the background of the SAPP region, then electricity generation sources and capacity, bilateral and multilateral contracts entered between countries, reforms by member countries to avoid shortages and lastly the implications of the reforms.

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