South Africa and Lesotho on Thursday signed an implementation agreement for the second phase of the R15-billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and committed to building a hydropower station with an installed capacity of between 1 000 MW and 1 200 MW.
The hydropower plant would be operational in 2018, and would see some 200 MW supplied for Lesotho’s power needs, with the remaining power transmitted to South Africa.
South African Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told Engineering News Online that Cabinet had approved the project and that the two countries would now sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under the auspices of South Africa’s Department of Energy.
The Lesotho government also approved the project, and draft agreements were ready, Lesotho Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki said in an interview in Maseru.
“The MoU to be signed between the two countries will not only focus on hydropower, but will see both countries look at projects on renewable energy, including solar and wind,” he said.
Both Ministers remained confident that the skills needed for the second phase of the project were available.
“There is sufficient capacity between both countries, and where or if necessary we will deploy required skills. But it is key to remember that we have Eskom coming on board on this project, as well as the Lesotho power parastatal,” Molewa explained.
The LHWP would strengthen regional integration by using water as a catalyst for socioeconomic development, as well as to advance economic links with key African partners.
“The nature of our cooperation is aimed at mutual development of our countries’ water sectors as a foundation and a catalyst for modernised and integrated economies. It embodies the Nepad principles for development and Africa’s renaissance to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.”
Phase two of the LHWP also comprises a water delivery system to augment the delivery of water to South Africa.
The system comprises the Polihali reservoir on the Senqu river, and a water conveyance tunnel connecting Polihali reservoir with the Katse reservoir. It would also see the development of key infrastructure including access roads to the project sites and camps, as well as power transmission lines and administrations centers, including social and environmental projects and programmes.
This phase would also include a pump storage scheme and associated transmission lines.