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Aug 16, 2006

Southern African nations study of $7bn power plan

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GABORONE|Amazon|Botswana Power Company|Congo's Societe NationalenD'Electricite|Development Bank|Development Bank Of Southern Africa|Empresa Nacional De Electricidade|Eskom|NamPower Of Namibia|South Africa's Eskom|Westcor|Europe|Angola|Botswana|Congo|Democratic Republic Of Congo|Namibia|South Africa|USD|Electricity|Electricity Prices|Electricity Prices.&rdquo|Energy Grid|Excess Electricity Supply|Congo River|Kunene River|Thomas Lokala
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Five Southern African countries will conduct feasibility studies into the development of a $7-billion power project in the region, where demand for electricity is expected to increase by a quarter by 2010.

The Western Power Corridor project, known as Westcor, plans to build three power stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Namibia that will transmit as much as 11 700 MW of electricity to the region, Thomas Lokala, Westcor's chief operating officer, said in an interview in the Botswana capital, Gaborone, yesterday.

“Currently there is no excess electricity supply in the countries, which also makes electricity expensive,'' Lokala said. “If there is more power generation this will help reduce and stabilize electricity prices.”

Westcor is a joint venture established in 2005 between the state-owned power companies of Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and South Africa to develop a regional energy grid. Demand for electricity in the five countries is expected to rise to 42 722 MW by 2010 from 34 263 MW in 2004, Lokala said. He didn't provide estimates of current or future production.

The project involves the development of a hydro-electric power station on the Congo River, known as Inga 3, which will generate 3 500 MW of electricity, he said.

Two other hydro-electric power stations will be built in the Kwanza Basin in northern Angola, producing 6 700 MW of electricity, and a 1 500-MW power station on the Kunene River in Namibia, Lokala added.

The Congo, the world's second-largest river by volume after the Amazon, may ultimately generate as much as 40 000 MW of electricity for export to other African countries and Europe, according to the Congolese government.

Westcor has approached the African Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa to fund the $10 million feasibility studies, which are expected to be completed by 2009, Lokala said.

The power companies that make up Westcor are Empresa Nacional de Electricidade, Botswana Power Company, Congo's Societe Nationale d'Electricite, NamPower of Namibia and South Africa's Eskom.

Edited by: Bloomberg
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