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… ENERGY INVESTMENT IMPERATIVE

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MBABANE – Business Eswatini (BE) is of the view that the issue of energy security and the urgency thereof cannot be overstated.

BE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nathi Dlamini said the issue of the baseload cannot be outsourced any longer, it needed to be domesticated for reasons that go beyond geopolitical implications. “As the private sector, we are vigorously pushing green projects that we think would lend themselves to the minister’s pronouncements on energy. Equally, we hope this energy mix will be consistent with the national NDC’s (Nationally Determined Contribution) that the country promised under the Paris Accord to COP26 regarding the reduction of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Understood

The CEO mentioned that the matter of the strategic oil reserve, which the minister spoke about, had not been understood by the private sector before. He said they were pleased that, after consultation with a wider network of stakeholders, ENPC in particular, they were now generally aligned. “Given the sporadic and pervasive disruptions in fuel supply this country has experienced in the past two years, and the deleterious economic impact it has had on business, we feel a fuel strategic reserve is tactically important. That being said, we are happy that we already have strong, competent oil companies of international repute in the country,” he added. Dlamini also alluded to the fact that mining holds huge prospects for this country, both from the point of view of employment creation and export opportunities; however, he said these prospects were undermined by the existing policy framework, which is not attractive to both local and international investors. The CEO also mentioned that agriculture was one of the critical sectors driving the economy, and continued investment in it is wise.

Develop

He said the pronouncement of the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) would ensure that they further develop this sector and take advantage of the opportunities that lie within the value chains. “The agriculture business sector is led by the private sector and as such, we feel it would be beneficial to have the private sector represented as a member of the committee charged with overseeing the fund,” he added. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg mentioned that the government, through the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) has approved the implementation of the 75MW solar PV, the 13.6MW Lower Maguduza hydropower plant, the 3 MW Maguga Expansion, and the Lower Maguga Hydro Power Plants. 80MW of biomass power generation capacity, in addition to the already approved 40MW, has been assessed and confirmed viable for an additional generation. He said the country was also assessing the market for the development of wind generation capacity. All these projects are expected to add to the installed capacity.

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