By Timo Shihepo
WINDHOEK – Several southern African countries’ energy ministers said there is a need for the region to take the issues of oil refinery, capacity and storage in the fuel industry as critical as the electricity sector.
Some of the ministers whom The Southern Times spoke to at the recent energy summit in Swaziland are of the opinion that the issue of refineries and capacity holding in the region has not been prioritised and did not even feature as part of the discussions at the energy summit.
Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze said refining capacities in the region has not seen any new life.
The population and demand for refined products is increasing yet the issues of refining and capacity holding as a strategic long term regional concentration is not part of what was discussed at the summit.
“Therefore at least as the back up to that growth and notion of the capacity we need to be seeing much more renewed efforts to get investments and increase that capacity to improve at least the intra-regional trade in all these products,” he said.
Swaziland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama said she was concurring with Namibia and said the issues of capacity and storage are very intimate issues, which are critical to the region.
She said there is a need to improve the refinery in the region and it should be included in the SADC documents as a vital point.
“We actually need to look at this sector the same way as the energy sector to know what our capacity, the plans are and what we are doing to make sure that individual countries are secured
in terms of fuel. What can be done in terms of capacity in the region as a whole? This needs to be discussed in our meetings as the energy ministers and ensure that our region is not caught off guard.”
South Africa’s Minister of Energy Mmamoloko Kubayi urged the region not to look only at existing refineries. She said with the resources in the region there must be some sort of plan when it comes to these issues.
“The same way we are looking at energy in terms of electrification why are we not looking at the resources in this region within this sector because it’s very key. I think we quite have a lot of resources so the storage issue is critical as the production capacity and sub products around that sector,” she said.
She added that this will not just encourage intra-regional trade but it will also make countries self-reliant.
She said this was because right now all the countries are under pressure in terms of the foreign currency the region uses when importing these products yet there is capacity within the region.
“I think we need to relook at all these proposal and determine where we want to be in the next couple of years as a region.”
Kandjoze also told The Southern Times that the country’s own energy sector is letting itself down when it comes to electricity. He said most of the SADC countries have expressed interest in selling electricity to Namibia but said those responsible with buying seem reluctant to do so. He said this is done at even certain times when the country is in real need of power.
“I am beginning to feel that what we have been doing for the couple of years is not putting Namibia first. Perhaps we need to go back into our own boardrooms and look at this thing and evaluate it.
“This is because everybody wants to sell to Namibia and we don’t seem to be helping ourselves out of that hole.”