Story by George Sanzila
Lilongwe, Malawi – SADC countries should collaborate and exploit potential energy sources existing in the region in order to curtail the long-standing energy crisis that has been exacerbated by the effects of the ongoing war in eastern Europe.
These sentiments were shared by Hon. Agnes Kafula at a symposium of the 51st SADC-PF Plenary Assembly that is taking place in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The plenary that started on Monday (10/07/22) is held under the theme “Towards energy efficiency, sustainability and self sufficiency in the SADC region”.
Kafula noted that averting the current energy crisis required collaborative effort from all SADC countries.
“It is important that as the SADC region, we work together to strengthen our efforts towards an energy self-sufficient region. The war in eastern Europe which has pushed energy prices and increased the cost of living should serve as a lesson for all of us and should encourage us to find alternative means of creating our own energy sources,” implored kafula.
Earlier, the president of Malawi, H.E. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera who officially opened the event lamented SADC’s inaction in exploiting alternative means of energy sources adding that the current energy crisis threatened democracy.
“The Maseru 1996 SADC protocol on energy recognizes the importance of energy in pursuit of the SADC vision of economic well-being and poverty eradication. Our decades of slumber have brought a rude awakening from the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has exposed our vulnerability and insecurity in the area of energy. It is my belief that this plenary will come up with resolutions that will help us in the SADC region to resolve the energy challenges,” said Chakwera.
According to Kafula who called for the exploitation of alternative energy sources, Namibia still faces energy deficiency particularly in rural areas despite having made progress.
“Citizens still face many challenges as only over 50% of citizens have access to power. Many other sources of energy particularly renewable sources could be explored to curtail the shortage and promote energy security and efficiency. These sources include solar, wind and biomass generation,” noted Kafula. Namibia imports over 50% of its electricity from neighboring countries, mainly South Africa.
Kafula revealed at the event that the country has embarked on an ambitious project meant to alleviate the energy crisis that will also help the country fulfill its aspirations of adopting renewable sources of energy and de-carbonise.
“Namibia has gone a step further by introducing a 12 billion US Dollars Green hydrogen project. This project which will be implemented in phases and is set to start in 2026, is intended to transform the country into a major renewable energy player by producing 300 000 metric tons of green hydrogen”, Kafula told delegates.
She however noted that even though the recent discoveries of oil and natural gas off the Namibian coast including the ongoing oil and gas exploration activities presents a paradox in Namibia’s quest to embrace clean energy, Namibia’s energy policy accommodates an energy mix as the country gravitates towards renewable energy sources.
“Although countries are preparing to move away from non-renewable sources of energy such as oil, Namibia believes in what is called energy mix, that is taking advantage of both sources of energy not only for the benefit of Namibians but the entire continent of Africa. Namibia is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and has its own National Energy Policy. Extracting natural resources such as oil does not mean it is backtracking on its commitment to de- carbonise. With these discoveries, we hope that the energy crisis in the SADC region and entire Africa will be averted,” said Kafula.
Other MPs who are part of the delegation concurred with Kafula noting that the SADC region was endowed with alternative energy sources that could be explored to give access to every citizen.
“It’s incumbent upon us as leaders and it’s time that Africa steps up to ensure that our resources are optimally used. Namibia with our newly found commercial oil and the mooted green hydrogen project, we stand to benefit quite a lot from these discussions,” noted Hon. Vipuakuje Muharukua.
“It’s a well thought theme. It’s important that before we talk of sustainability, we set a target to electrify the entire populace and developing alternative energy sources,” advised Hon. Phillipus Katamelo who is also part of the delegation.
Hon. Kafula is leading a delegation of Namibian parliamentarians attending the plenary that also includes Hons. Paula Kooper and Utaara Mootu.
SADC-PF was established in 1997 in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the SADC Treaty as an autonomous institution of SADC. It is a regional inter-parliamentary body composed of fifteen parliaments representing over 3500 parliamentarians in the SADC region.