MBABANE - The Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) has confirmed that the construction of projects in line with the 75MW Solar PV generating capacities will begin at the end of 2024.
This follows announcement last month by ESERA of its intention to award contracts to preferred bidders for 75MW Solar PV generation capacities in line with Section 26 of the Electricity Act of 2007. The preferred bidders or companies include Africa Clean Energy Development, which is a South African (SA) company, Globeleq Africa Holdings Limited from the United Kingdom (UK) and Innovent SAS from France. This is part of ESERA procurement processes of new generating capacity from independent producers. Asked on the current status of the said project, ESERA's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sikhumbuzo Tsabedze alluded to the fact that project negotiations were ongoing to finalise agreements on project documents being power purchase agreement, grid connection agreement and implementation agreement.
Further quizzed about the values of the proposed contracts intended to be awarded to the said companies when undertaking the project, Tsabedze did not give a definite response. "Presently, the value is uncertain as these are IPP projects, which will be fully capitalised and funded by the private sector," he explained. The CEO also pointed out that with all things constant, construction of projects was expected to begin at the end of 2024, adding that, 'plants are expected to come on line approximately by the end of 2025.' It was previously reported that Eswatini was targeting at least 50 per cent of renewable energy in the country's electricity mix, as revealed by outgoing Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg on BNN Newsroom seven months ago. The legislator was quoted as saying that the country was planning a number of energy projects to add to the installed capacity that will contribute to the achievement of national security of supply. Rijkenberg revealed that the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority had approved the implementation of a 75MW Solar PV, 13.6MW Lower Maguduza hydro power plant, 33MW Maguga Expansion and Lower Maguga Hydro Power Plants.
"80MW of biomass power generation capacity, in addition to the already approved 40MW, has been assessed and confirmed viable for an additional generation. The country is also assessing the market for the development of wind generation capacity," Rijkenberg was quoted as saying. Eswatini is one of the leading countries in Southern Africa that has invested substantially in boosting access to electricity, with a national electrification rate of 83 per cent. "This is higher than the average for Africa, which stands at 40 per cent," said the minister.
In 2020, World Bank ranked Eswatini 8th in the southern African region with regard to access to clean fuels and technologies, with a score of 74.7 per cent. ESERA's functions are based on strategic objectives designed for the authority to effectively achieve its mandate. This includes regulating the electricity industry in a manner that is transparent, fair and predictable. This government parastatal is also mandated to promote an environment that will ensure universal access to electricity services and products. ESERA is the authority that regulates the operations of the Eswatini Electricity Company (EEC).