Scrutinising SADC’s infrastructure and services sectors

By Timo Shihepo

PRETORIA – The SADC region is making significant inroads in the areas of infrastructure and services but still faces a lot of challenges to achieve its Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) of 2015-2020, SADC Secretariat’s Acting Director of Infrastructure and Services, Phera Ramoeli, has said.

The development of infrastructure and services is cited by SADC as critical for promoting and sustaining regional economic development, industrialisation, trade and investment. The potential for deepening integration through sharing of the production, management and operations of infrastructure facilities, hubs or development corridors is enormous.

SADC has six infrastructure areas that constitute the Regional Infrastructure Programme, namely: Energy, Tourism (Trans-frontier Conservation Areas), Transport, ICT, Meteorology and Trans-boundary Water.

Energy

The region’s access to energy now stands 45% while the electricity demand in the Region increased by a weighted average of 2.6% during 2016. In the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) only 34% of the planned trading was achieved on account of limited transmission and inter-connector capacity.

As of the end of April 2017, the mainland Member States had an installed generation capacity of 59,539 MW and operating capacity of 54,397 MW against a demand and reserve of 53,478 MW.

“The economic downturn and the stable operations lead to low peak demand compared to 2015/2016.

“Therefore, when taking into account the current peak demand and generation capacity reserve margins, the mainland Member States have an excess capacity of 919 MW,” said Ramoeli when briefing the media on Wednesday ahead of the 37th SADC Heads of State and Government summit set for this weekend.

He said the installed capacity in oceanic Member States is 782 MW, 246 MW, and 106 MW for Mauritius, Madagascar and Seychelles respectively. These result in total installed capacity of 60,673 MW for all SADC Member States.

Of a positive note, however, the region commissioned 4, 180 MW in 2016 exceeding the target of 3, 757 MW. It’s the highest generation capacity commissioned in the region since 2004.

The 4,180 MW came from Angola with 780 MW; Malawi 10 MW; Mozambique 175 MW; Namibia 15 MW; South Africa 2,550 MW; Tanzania 150 MW; Zambia 300 MW, and Zimbabwe 200 MW from rehabilitation and new projects.

The generation mix for the new power plants commissioned in 2016 came from hydro (43%), gas (24 %), solar (11%), wind (10%), coal (7%) and diesel at 5%.

The mainland member states are now planning to commission 3,516 MW in 2017.

About 1,727 MW is earmarked from Angola while Botswana is expected to produce 120 MW, Democratic Republic of Congo 150 MW, Malawi 36 MW, Mozambique 40 MW, Namibia 60 MW, South Africa 1,128 MW, Tanzania 120 MW, Zambia 15 MW and Zimbabwe 120 MW.

Transport

Under transport, Ramoeli said the region was at an advanced stage to finalise the planning for the Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme for the Tripartite and the signing of the financing agreement between SADC and the European Union worth 18 million euro.

In SADC, in response to the demands for transport services, there was a need to develop appropriate, integrated, safe, secure and efficient infrastructure capacity along strategic transport and development corridors through regional road and railway networks linked to anchor ports.

Projects identified in RIDMP including Public Private Partnerships projects (The Transport Sector Plan-TSP),  focus on modernisation, rehabilitation, expansion of existing networks, new infrastructure, closing of missing links and rehabilitation of ports, rail, roads, border posts and logistics facilities.

Ramoeli said the vision was to provide transport infrastructure services, including logistics systems, policy and legislature, enabling environmental and supportive institutions with the necessary human resources and institutional capacity to transform the transport sector.

Communications and ICT

Of SADC’s population of around 300 million people, only 16.3% of the population are using the internet compared to a penetration of 47% of 3.2 billion people globally.

SADC is trailing behind in competitiveness and socio-economic development and there was a need to stimulate the roll out of high speed ICT Infrastructure and Networks. SADC, however, has 80.84% billion of mobile penetration.

“Lack of adequate infrastructure has resulted in a significant digital divide and tariffs for services are still exorbitant. The high cost of service has resulted in low uptake of ICT Services. The cost of ICT services in SADC are, far higher than average international market rates, and gaps exist in national and regional Broadband networks,” said Ramoeli.

Water

SADC’s objective of the water sector programme is to facilitate the development of a framework for sustainable, efficient and effective shared watercourses planning and management, through development of strategic water infrastructure and promotion of good water governance in the region.

To realise this objective, the water sector develops and implements five year Regional Strategic Action Plans, which are delivered through the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.

Within the Region, there are 15 shared river basins and the intention is that the river basins would eventually have fully established and functional River Basin Organisations.

Tourism sector

The objective of the tourism sector is to market the SADC Region as a single-multifaceted tourism destination and to use tourism as a vehicle for socio economic development.

Funding challenges

To implement the SADC Infrastructure Programme, the region has been sourcing funds from private investors.

According to Ramoeli, the SADC Infrastructure Programme is implemented in collaboration with and within the framework of continental and inter-regional processes.

He said the Tripartite Programme has a dedicated pillar on infrastructure which has projects spanning the SADC–COMESA – EAC Sub regions in the areas of Transport, ICT, and Energy amongst others.

“SADC has many funding partners such as the World Bank, NEPAD, African Development Bank, the European Union, among others.”

August 2017
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