SADC water, energy ministers’ meeting opens in Swaziland
By Gugu Mahlalela
Mbabane-As the Southern African Development Community (SADC) accelerates initiatives towards industrialization, water increasingly play a critical role in process. This was highlighted by the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama when she officially opened the SADC Senior Water Officials meeting on Sunday at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre.
The minister said water drives energy production and it is also critical for the drilling and mining of natural gas, coal, oil and other energy sources like uranium. She said she was delighted that the meeting of Water Ministers has been scheduled to coincide with the Energy Investor Forum to ensure that investment in water infrastructure is also advocated for to further emphasis the water-energy and food nexus.
Mashwama further highlighted that Swaziland highly depends on water for electric power production. She revealed that Maguga and Luphohlo dams are currently the two major national dams with a substantial amount of electric power generation to support national electricity needs. “Combined these two power plants produce a total of 40 MW which is still below the required production to meet the national electricity needs. This then indicates the need for water infrastructure investments to enhance clean electric power generation which is greatly needed to meet National and regional power needs”, she said.
The minister further highlighted that the meeting will be reviewing progress in the implementation of recommendation made by Ministers of Water in their meeting they held in Gaborone last year. She said it will be coupled with a review of the issues which were discussed by the Water Resources Technical Committee in their meeting held at the Vaal Triangle in South Africa in May 2017. She said the report will be tabled before the SADC Minister of Water in their meeting today.
RISDP projects greatly advanced
The Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama has revealed that most of the projects contained in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) have been greatly advanced. The RISDP documents provides a mix of projects to advance Regional Integration.
The Minister said Swaziland has positive developments on the Lomahasha and Namaacha potable water supply project which will bring a positive change to about 46 000 people living in the two areas by 2024. “We also appreciated the good cooperation that has prevailed on joint regional water initiatives which has greatly advanced on joint regional integration. This is a great indicator of the level of trust that prevails between Member States and such a spirit should be encouraged to demonstrate the water is an instruments for peace as it binds nations together”, she said.
Mashwama further also appreciated the role of international cooperating partners as they are notable funders of most of regional infrastructure projects. “The role our Academic Institutions in advancing the implementation of the Capacity Building and Research component of our regional programme is also greatly appreciated. Implementing partners like the Global Water Partnership – Southern Africa SADC –Groundwater Management Institute play a pivotal role in our development agenda. We should therefore continue to find ways to improve our cooperation initiatives with all key stakeholders in water infrastructure development”, she said.
SADC Secretariat’s Acting Director Infrastructure, Phera Ramoeli speaking on behalf of SADC’s Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said as the region it is very important to look at the water challenges of the region. She said SADC need to find ways to manage drought and floods as there are common occurrences in the region. “There is a great need to find ways to manage these carefully and jointly,” she said.