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GOVT IN TALKS FOR BETTER POWER SUPPLY

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MBABANE – Electricity supply concerns play a pivotal role in the growth of the economy and government is engaging Australia and Germany for a remedy.


The magnitude of how essential it is for a country to have a reliable power system, is evident in that the World Bank cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa to below 1 per cent for 2020 due to electricity supply concerns.
To discard such a possibility on the country, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade has engaged a number of investors working on various projects in the energy sector to supply the local grid.


The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, said there were ongoing projects and a few feasibility studies in the solar, biomass and hydro energy space all driven by the private sector.
“The government is also currently doing a feasibility study on a potential thermal power station with assistance from the Taiwanese government. However, we are also aggressively focusing on supporting private projects that will allow Eswatini to export energy to SA in the near future.” Khumalo said to facilitate this, government moved quickly in the last year to sign an Inter-governmental MoU with South Africa that would make it possible for the country to export energy to that republic. Prior to this MoU being signed, Khumalo said, such projects weren’t possible.


The minister further said there were two companies, one Australian and another German, who were already at advanced stages of signing off-take agreements with Eskom.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy have been working to support these companies through their investment journey to ensure they get all the government support to make their projects successful.


Khumalo said the common unveiling of entrepreneurs whose projects always fell through was history.
“I am confident that the investors that I’ve referred to above have no funding issues. Through EIPA we now ensure that projects that we support have a proper business case and sources of funding.”
He said the main issue has been the lack of an intergovernmental MoU that would allow the country to export energy to South Africa. Khumalo said now that this issue was resolved, these projects would succeed. Also, the Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, emphasised on his Cabinet colleague’s assertion. He said there has been investment into the energy space recently with new hydro and solar capacity being installed.


Regulator


“The energy regulator has also recently put out a request for bids to install an additional 40MW of solar power plants. As far as I know this is now in the final stage and the final award should be made soon,” Rijkenberg said.
He further said this process of going out for bids would continue to bolster the country’s power supply. Rijkenberg said the Eswatini Electricity Company (EEC) had done a great job of generally ‘keeping the lights on’ while managing cuts from ESKOM.

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