SADC infrastructure projects dominate PIDA conference

By Joseph Ngwawi

Infrastructure projects involving southern African countries featured prominently when African experts met in Namibia to discuss ways of deepening cooperation on the continent.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states had the largest number of projects showcased during the 2017 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week held in Swakopmund, Namibia on 10-14 December.

Out of the six infrastructure corridor projects showcased during the PIDA Week, four involved SADC member states – some of them being promoted jointly with other regional economic communities.

These are the Batoka hydropower plant, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector, the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge and the Central Corridor in Tanzania.

The other projects showcased were the Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector being championed by the East African Community (EAC) and the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States.

Construction of the Batoka Gorge hydropower station is expected to add 1,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to ease shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the two countries are connected to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the management of electricity in the region, the proposed power station will also benefit the SADC region.

All mainland SADC Member States with the exception of Angola, Malawi and Tanzania, are interconnected through SAPP, allowing countries in the region to share surplus energy. The Batoka project entails the construction of a 181-metre gravity dam and the installation of eight 200MW units with the power shared equally between the two countries.

The ZTK interconnector is a high voltage power transmission line connecting Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.

The project aims to connect the power grids and create a link between SAPP and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), making it possible to transmit power from Cape to Cairo.

The project’s main objective is to provide opportunities to conduct power trade in the eastern and southern Africa region and facilitate the creation of a Pan-African power market from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt.

Covering a distance of 2,206 kilometres, the interconnector will have a capacity of 400MW, and will be constructed as a double circuit 400 kiloVolt (kV) line in sections from Pensulo in Zambia to Isinya in Kenya.

A 400kV line from Mbeya to Iringa in Tanzania will also be built to provide the strong path for power to be delivered to the northern load centres.

The project is a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-SADC-EAC Tripartite Priority project as well as a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) project under the PIDA programme and the Africa Power Vision, which have been endorsed by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government.

The ZTK interconnector will connect Tanzania to the SAPP regional grid.

Ultimately, the interconnector is expected link Tanzania to the SAPP, meaning that Tanzania will now be able to sell and buy electricity from the participating utilities in the region. The interconnector will not only link Tanzania to the SAPP grid, but also connect the Eastern African Power Pool to SAPP, allowing countries in eastern Africa to share surplus electricity with those in southern Africa.

The proposed Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge involves the construction of a rail-road bridge across the Congo River to link Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capitals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo, respectively.

In addition, the project will involve construction of a 1,000 km railway to connect the cities of Kinshasa and Ilebo in the DRC as well as development of road networks on both sides of the Congo River to link the two countries to the bridge.

The project is being championed by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

The DRC is a member of both SADC and the ECCAS.

The Central Corridor involves the construction of the Dar-es-Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road.

SADC deputy Executive Secretary responsible for corporate affairs, Emilie Mushobekwa, said infrastructure development “requires sustained efforts from all stakeholders to maintain the momentum of implementation”.

“Sustaining this momentum requires that in addition to political will, other necessary enabling conditions are availed,” Mushobekwa said during the official opening of 3rd PIDA Week.

The enablers for infrastructure development include the necessary policy, legal and regulatory environment to facilitate private sector participation and investments.

PIDA is a blueprint for African infrastructure transformation for the period 2012-2040. The programme was adopted by African leaders in January 2012 and provides a strategic framework for priority infrastructure projects expected to transform the continent into an interconnected and integrated region.

To mobilise financial investment to accelerate PIDA implementation, the African Development Bank, African Union Commission, Namibian government, NEPAD and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organized the 2017 PIDA Week where a total of six strategic and regionally balanced projects will be presented to potential donors.

Infrastructure development is pivotal to the socio-economic growth of the continent as thriving economies depend on a reliable infrastructure base, both at the national and regional level. – sardc.net

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