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SADC member states urged to establish more joint investments on energy, water

BARBARA LOPI
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States must establish more joint investments on strategic energy and water projects to promote region energy and water security.
This is one of the recommendations from the high-level workshop on the energy and water crises in the regional which was held on June 20, 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana. The workshop was followed by a meeting of SADC ministers responsible for energy and water on June 21 at the same venue.
The workshop also recommended that Member States and the SADC Secretariat “should ensure that the energy, water and food security sectors avoid working in sectoral silos, but plan and work jointly in a nexus approach to maximise benefits and accelerate delivery”.
The workshop, which is the second in a series of meetings called by President Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana in his capacity as Chairperson, noted that the tendency to work in sectoral silos, and to focus on national sufficiency as opposed to regional sufficiency by some Member States, contributed to the Energy and Water insecurity in the region.
About 160 delegates including ministers and senior officials from the ministries responsible for energy and water sectors in the SADC Member States, representatives of national energy and water regulators and utilities, international cooperating partners, SADC energy and water thematic group members and implementing partners; academic research and training institutions, development finance institutions, members of the diplomatic corps and independent power producers attended the workshop.
The workshop, held under the theme: “Accelerating energy delivery and access to water resources in the SADC region – A collective approach”, facilitated exchange of ideas and proposed recommendations towards the energy and water crisis in the region.
In his keynote address, President Khama called on the delegates to discuss the regional crisis and recommend sustainable solutions.
President Khama noted that “if the status of energy and water supply services situation in the region does not improve, the SADC industrialisation strategy and roadmap could remain a pipe dream”.
In her opening remarks to the workshop, the SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax highlighted the vital role of energy and water resources to regional economic growth, and added that insufficient access directly impacted on the quality of lives of people in the region.
After deliberations, the workshop recommended that:
• The SADC Secretariat should as a matter of urgency initiate a study on transferring water from the water-rich basins to the water stressed parts of the region expeditiously, through inter/intra basin transfers.
• Member States must be encouraged to embark on intensive energy and water demand side management strategies which combine the use of high efficiency technologies, methodologies and better awareness creation as a matter of urgency.
• Member States must be encouraged to promote and invest in alternative energy sources for power generation such as hydro, solar and wind power including coal and gas using appropriate and efficient technologies and thereby promote optimal energy mix.
• Member States should promote conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water and invest more in rainwater harvesting, recycling, and desalination depending on the circumstance.
• Member States and SADC Secretariat must be encouraged to accelerate efforts to prepare bankable water and energy infrastructure projects, as well as implementation of the priority infrastructure projects for hydro-power and multi-purpose dams as identified in the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan in order to accelerate regional industrialisation.
• Member States must be encouraged to allocate resources for rehabilitation and maintenance on energy and water infrastructures.
• Member States who are not connected in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) transmission network must be encouraged to get connected to accelerate the respective on-going interconnector projects to enable them to benefit from trading among the Member States. Though SAPP was established more than 20 years ago, three mainland SADC Member States are still not connected.
• Member States should provide incentives that promote the renewable energy investments which may lower capital expenditure.
• Member States should explore other options such as competitive bidding to facilitate development of renewable energy projects.
• Innovative funding mechanisms should be identified to effectively finance implementation of infrastructure projects.
• Ongoing efforts to develop regional funding mechanisms to support Member States’ efforts to fund energy and water projects as well as to improve resilience of SADC communities against impact of climate change and variability must intensify.
• Centres of excellence must be established and existing ones strengthened to undertake research and training to improve capacity for maintenance and operation of systems as well as job creation.

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