Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Progress At Last For Kingdom Of Eswatini's Energy Mix Dream

By: Koketso Lediga

After a long wait, the Kingdom of Eswatini issued a request for the qualification and development of a 40MW solar PV plant to be developed via the First Tranche Procurement Programme and a 40MW biomass-to-energy plant to be developed via the Second Tranche Procurement Programme.

Surprisingly, the announcement was made public through the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) and not the Eswatini Electricity Company on the 7thof June 2019. The later is a state-owned utility previously known as Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) and currently operates a number of hydropower plants with an estimated installed capacity of 60MW to date. Needless to say, the generated power levels are inadequate since it provides a mere 10% to the Kingdom's electricity demand.

The request for qualification comes delayed given that Eswatini has publicised its intent to have a 46MW solar PV power plant online since 2017. However, the decision is an important one for this developing country and it being it closer towards reducing the country's reliance on imported power from utilities such as EDM (Electricidade de Moçambique) and Eskom. 

This request could not have been issued at a better time taking into consideration the recent events in Mozambique and South Africa. The two utilities have an undisputed record that indicates their inability to provide steady or uninterrupted electricity for those within their borders.

Eswatini's decision to act on its past commitment to invest in renewable energy and expand the ratio of renewables in the country's electricity to 50% by no later than 2030 can only yield positive results for its population that amounts to roughly 1.42 million. It is beyond doubt that energy is the lifeblood of any economy as it is an input to practically every product or service produced across all sectors.

Research has proven that there is a direct correlation between energy/electricity and economic growth. I would unashamedly argue that it is both the bloodline and backbone of a country and a thriving economy. 

Given the long standing energy crisis in Eswatini, an unlimited natural resource such as solar is the most feasible backup to recover the lost economic opportunities for the country. Solar energy is available in abundance on a continent like Africa. It is still puzzling that most African countries have not exploited this resources.

Even more so puzzling for a country like Eswatini that has more than one successful hydro power plan. ESERA has taken a wise move to embrace solar power as a strategy to hedge against unreliable and instable electricity supply and prices.

A further benefit of a diversified power generation approach means that Eswatini can rely less on imported power while creating more jobs for locals for the construction and operation of the plant. Basically, Eswatini's decision will curb unemployment levels, improve productivity and improve the citizen's standard of living and increase the economy's GDP.

The project is set to be consigned by 2020 and one would hope that the procurement process is not granted further deferment. Additionally, and imperatively, an appropriate procurement strategy and contracting method is used, which encourages collaboration and cooperation between ESERA, the successful bidder, subcontractors, funders, operator and all consultants to ensure that the project is not riddled with cost and time overruns.

Following the development and publication MNRE's Energy Master Plan, the country should be more intentional in the future to encourage, support and implement public & private sector driven projects and increase local generation of renewable energy.

While the project is an answer as well as solution for the country's transient energy needs and the risk attached to the reliance on imported electricity, its long term strategy seeks to raise awareness for the evolution of home-grown renewable energy projects. Renewable energy will meet the country's environmental clean energy goals which will reinforce economic growth.

Since the current master plan expands over a period of 20 years, my hope is that the Eswatini government not only invites the private sector to contribute to the energy generation and distribution efforts but that it creates a conducive environment for participation. 

Koketso Lediga is the Managing Director & Lead Consultant, Infra-Afrika Advisory, Sandton

Angola's To Push For Angola's Gas Monetization At Gas Exporting Countries Forum

In a major development for the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), President João Lourenço of Angola will attend and address the fifth annual summit, hosted by Equatorial Guinea as part of its "Year of Energy."

Angola joined the GECF as an observing member in November 2018. President's Lourenço active participation in this year's summit reflects the growing importance of the natural gas sector to his administration's long-term plan to grow and diversify Africa's third largest economy.

Angola's oil sector has faced challenges in recent years. Production has fallen from a peak of 1.9m barrels per day in 2010 to just above 1.4m bopd. Furthermore, with limited refining capacity, Angola's large oil production has done little to power the economy's industrial sector, leading to fuel shortages like the one which hit Luanda recently.

Upon taking office in September 2017, President Lourenço's priorities were clear: reform oil and grow gas.

In May 2018, President Lourenço issued a presidential decree which included specific policies to attract new investment into the natural gas sector. This includes a five percent tax on gas production, compared to ten percent for oil; as well as a 15 percent income tax rate for non-associated gas (compared with a 25 percent rate for associated gas and oil). These attractive incentives, combined with a reformed licensing process and a renewed focus on reducing corruption, have put Angolan gas on the map.

There is presently just one operational gas facility in the country, located in Soyo, at the mouth of the Congo River. The Angola Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant is a $12 billion joint venture between Sonangol, Chevron, BP, Eni and Total; it has the capacity to produce 5.2 million tons of LNG per annum, according to the company website [1]. But with proven natural gas reserves of 383 billion cubic meters, there is massive growth potential in this sector.

Equatorial Guinea To Build West Africa's First LNG Storage Plant

Located at the Port of Akonikien, the landmark regasification plant will enable the storage, transportation and distribution of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country's mainland.

12 bullet tanks will carry 14,000 cubic meters of storage capacity, supported by a truck loading station and 12-kilometers of ten-inch gas and diesel pipelines.

The project will be led by local construction and engineering firm Elite Construcciones; The project forms part of Equatorial Guinea's regional LNG2Africa initiative which seeks to drive gas monetization through in-country gas-to-power projects.

Equatorial Guinea is set to construct the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification plant in West Africa, advancing efforts to monetize gas resources through the creation of a domestic gas-to-power infrastructure.

Located at the Port of Akonikien on the country's mainland, the plant will enable the transportation and storage of LNG from the EG LNG plant at the Punta Europa Gas Complex on Bioko Island, to Akonikien on the southern border of the mainland.

It will then be fed into the regasification plant to be distributed to smaller-scale power plants and LNG power stations throughout the country, as well as exported to neighboring countries.

The Akonikien project is the first gas-to-power development in Equatorial Guinea's LNG2Africa initiative. Launched by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons in 2018, the initiative seeks to facilitate the production and trade of LNG through the creation of a domestic gas-to-power infrastructure and intra-African LNG industry.

Spearheaded by local construction and engineering firm Elite Construcciones, the plant will have a storage capacity of 14,000 cubic meters with 12 bullet tanks.

The tanks are currently the largest factory-built cryogenic bullet tanks in the world with a capacity of 1,228 cubic meters and dimensions of  31 meters by 9.3 meters by 8.8 meters.

Built by American manufacturer Corban Energy Group, each tank is estimated to require 12 hours to complete the 12,000-meter distance from the port to the new plant.

Elite Construcciones is also installing a truck loading station and 12 kilometers of 10-inch gas and diesel pipelines.

Other major suppliers include pipe supplier PFF Group, who manufactured 12,400 meters of pipes, shipping agents D&B Shipping Ltd. who facilitated the shipment of 22 40-foot open-top containers, and Meakin Logistics UK.

Elite Construcciones also worked closely with German companies Noorwerk and ESC on the design and construction of the plant.

Victoria University Sponsors Kira Road Police Tournament

Kira Road Police were on the receiving end when Victoria University management supported their Together Football and Netball tournament.

Victoria University Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Krishna N. Sharma handed over boxes of water to Mr. Semitego a representative of the Kira Road Police.

The Kira Road Police Together Football and Netball tournament will take place on 9th Oct, 2019, also Uganda’s Independence Day.

“We thank Uganda police for working tirelessly to ensure our safety.” Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Krishna N. Sharma said while handing over the water boxes.

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