PESA
Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Industry Spotlight: Electricity Generation Industry

Energy is a vital commodity for any country aspiring to achieve sustainable economic development. The SADC has great potential for a diverse energy generation mix comprised of hydropower, solar, wind, coal, and nuclear[33]. Energy supply and access to energy is a very strategic element for regional integration and industrialisation. Nevertheless, it is impossible to talk about energy without also discussing climate change[34].

SADC has developed a legal framework and protocols on the energy sector for the region namely the Energy protocol adopted in 1996, the Energy Sector Plan of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. In addition, the Southern African Power Pool is a regional body that is responsible for the coordination, planning, generating and marketing electricity on behalf of 12 Member States’ utility companies in SADC[35]. There is also the Southern Africa Regional Electricity Regulators Association that is in charge of harmonising national and regional energy policies and all the regulatory framework as well as providing guidelines for investment in the regional power sector[36].

SADC countries have great potential for renewable energy including hydro, solar and wind which would allow the region to move away from conventional energy generation using fossil fuels. The initiative to increase investment renewable energy generation in SADC is undertaken through the Renewable Energy Support Programme and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan[37]. The SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is in charge of implementing, monitoring and increasing access to secure and modern source of energy in the SADC region[38]. However, climate change represents a serious challenge to renewable energy supply and security across the SADC region.

SADC countries have been experiencing seasonal droughts and high temperature, along with sporadic flooding. Whilst other parts of SADC region are faced by water scarcity and availability which is worsened by climate change conditions[39]. The reduced rainfall has adversely affected a number of SADC countries relying on hydroelectric power due to low levels of water flow in dams and rivers causing a shortage of energy supply[40]. This has negatively impacted on the economic performance. In addition, the deforestation from drought has added a greater burden on fuel supplies as the majority of population living in rural areas across SADC region highly depend on wood fuel as the main source of energy[41].

SADC region’s energy generation mix are based on coal (61.4%), hydropower (21.0%), wind (4.0%), solar (3.9%), and nuclear (3.0%)[42]. In terms of potential in renewable energy are hydropower energy with 1,080.0 TWh per year, solar energy with 20,000.0 TWh per year, and wind energy with 800 TWh per year[43]. This means that the SADC region could adequately meet its demand in energy, while extending access and affordable electricity to poor households in rural areas. However, SADC’s renewable energy potential remains underutilised, with approximately 31.0 TWh per year for hydropower, 200.0 TWh per year for solar and less than 8.0 TWh per year for wind[44]. There are a number of challenges slowing the SADC region’s ability to fully exploit its potential in natural endowments in terms of sources of energy. These include a shortage of energy supply, a growing population, urbanisation, and industrial growth, lack of technical capacity, poor infrastructure maintenance and substantial investments[45]. There are opportunities for new investments in infrastructure development and technologies needed in the SADC’s energy sector. Despite these challenges, there is some significant movement toward renewable energy in SADC, with the entry of new Independent Power Producers[46].

Table 2: SADC Electricity Generation Mix

Source: SAPP 2018. Annual Report 2018, ibid.

For instance, South Africa has managed to attract approximately USD 4.8 billion investment in the renewable energy sector[47]. In Mozambique, the state-owned power utility National Energy Fund of Mozambique allocated a tender of USD 13.0 million for the construction of a photovoltaic manufacturing plant[48]. In Zambia, a USD 1.0 million tender was issued to conduct a feasibility study for 500.0 GWh wind power plant[49]. These small and micro-grid projects undertaken through Independent Power Producers allow the generation capacity of new energy supply and ease the electricity shortage, especially in remote areas[50]. It means there is a space for partnerships between states, governments and Independent Power Producers in the renewable energy sector in SADC countries[51]. This require clear regulatory framework and market incentives from government to encourage competitiveness of renewable energy technologies[52].

Interconnector projects within SADC region have been undertaken to increase the capacity of power generation and facilitate power trading system in the region[53]. These interconnector projects form part of a cross border electricity transmission power grid to link power systems amongst SADC countries such as Mozambique – Zimbabwe – South Africa interconnector project and Zambia – Tanzania – Kenya interconnector project[54]. This is very crucial given the unequal impacts of climate change across the region and its impact on energy supply. In SADC region, only South Africa operates a nuclear plant[55]. Nuclear power is another alternative of clean source of energy supply for South Africa and the SADC region to move away from dependency on coal and diesel fuel. However, in comparison with other renewable energy generation such as solar and wind, building nuclear power plants require large investments – are very capital intensive and require several additional safety measures to be put in place[56]. In addition, the lack of human technical skills constitutes a constraint to cater for nuclear plant technology, because it requires adequate engineering skills and continuing training skills programme[57].

The impact of climate change is a reality and observed through seasonal, precipitation patterns and temperature change. Climate change condition will continue to put strain on the provision of energy. With regards to that, SADC has great potential for energy generation mix such as hydropower, solar, wind, coal and nuclear. Therefore, it is vital that SADC countries start to focus on investing and diversifying their source of energy supply and reduce reliance on single or few primary energy sources to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change on socioeconomic development and increase environmental sustainability. SADC countries should be able to create market incentives and provide financial support for small and micro projects in the renewable energy to encourage all forms of sustainable clean energy. It is also important to develop adequate technical skills to accommodate new technologies.

By Serge Hadisi and Charl Swart


[33] Mbirimi, I. 2010. Regional Energy Security Dynamics in Southern Africa: Electricity Mixes in the Context of Global Climate Change Mitigation Pressures, International Institute for Sustainable Development: Winnipeg. Available At: https://www.iisd.org/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019]; SADC 2016. SADC Energy Monitor 2016: Baseline Study of the SADC Energy Sector, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019].
[34] SACREEE 2018. Energy in Southern Africa: Energy Efficiency Key to the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Windhoek. Available At: https://www.sacreee.org/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019]; SADC 2012e. Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019].
[35] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019]; SACREEE 2018. Energy in Southern Africa: Energy Efficiency Key to the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, ibid.
[36] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[37] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.; SACREEE 2018. Energy in Southern Africa: Energy Efficiency Key to the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, ibid.
[38] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.; SACREEE 2018. Energy in Southern Africa: Energy Efficiency Key to the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, ibid.
[39] Lesolle, D. 2012. SADC Policy Paper on Climate Change: Assessing the Policy Option for SADC Member States, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019].
[40] Lesolle, D. 2012. SADC Policy Paper on Climate Change: Assessing the Policy Option for SADC Member States, ibid.
[41] Lesolle, D. 2012. SADC Policy Paper on Climate Change: Assessing the Policy Option for SADC Member States, ibid.
[42] SAPP 2018. Annual Report 2018, Southern African Power Pool: Harare. Available At: http://www.sapp.co.zw/ [Last Accessed: 24 January 2020].
[43] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[44] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[45] Mpandeli, S., Naidoo, D., Mabhaudhi, T., Nhemachena, C., Nhamo, L., Liphadzi, S., Hlahla, S., and Modi, A.T. 2018. ‘Climate Change Adaptation through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Southern Africa’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 15, No. 2306. Available At: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019].
[46] SADC 2016. SADC Energy Monitor 2016: Baseline Study of the SADC Energy Sector, ibid.; SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[47] REN21 2015. SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report: 2015, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century: Paris. Available At: https://www.ren21.net/ [Last Accessed: 24 January 2020]; PESA 2018. Evaluating the Developmental Impact of Africa-Sino Relations , on the Political Economy Southern Africa Website, viewed on 21 December 2019, from https://politicaleconomy.org.za/.
[48] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[49] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[50] REN21 2018. SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report: 2018, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century: Paris. Available At: https://www.ren21.net/ [Last Accessed: 24 January 2020]; SAPP 2018. Annual Report 2018, ibid.
[51] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[52] Mbirimi, I. 2010. Regional Energy Security Dynamics in Southern Africa: Electricity Mixes in the Context of Global Climate Change Mitigation Pressures, ibid.
[53] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[54] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[55] Nkosi, N.P. and Dikgang, J. 2018. South African Attitudes about Nuclear Power: The Case of the Nuclear Energy Expansion, Economic Research Southern Africa: Cape Town. Available At: https://econrsa.org/ [Last Accessed: 21 December 2019].
[56] Nkosi, N.P. and Dikgang, J. 2018. South African Attitudes about Nuclear Power: The Case of the Nuclear Energy Expansion, ibid.; SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.
[57] SADC 2018. SADC Energy Monitor 2018: Enabling Industrialisation and Regional Integration in SADC, ibid.; Mbirimi, I. 2010. Regional Energy Security Dynamics in Southern Africa: Electricity Mixes in the Context of Global Climate Change Mitigation Pressures, ibid.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Ken is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Serge is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Tsepiso is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ross Oliver Douglas

Ross is an Editor at PESA.

Charl Swart

Charl is an Editor at PESA.

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

Thabo is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Ross Oliver Douglas

Charl Swart

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

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