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STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

 

DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI

 

 

AT SADC JOINT ENERGY AND WATER MINISTERS MEETING

 

AT ROYAL SWAZI SUN CONVENTION CENTRE

 

TUESDAY 11 JULY 2017

 

Honourable Ministers of Energy and Water from SADC member

states

Senior Officials from Energy and Water Sectors in SADC

member states

SADC Secretariat

Distinguished guests

Representatives of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to welcome you all to this joint Meeting of SADC Ministers of Energy and Water.   And, indeed, a very warm welcome to the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Over the coming two days our energy and water sectors, and especially our proposed projects and strategies, will come under close scrutiny as a key part of a process that, we hope, will precipitate for the energy sector in particular some of the most significant and pivotal steps in the history of SADC.

The High Level Ministerial Workshop and Investment Forum which will be held tomorrow and Thursday respectively, will focus on the theme for mobilizing resources for sustainable energy infrastructure in the SADC region. The theme was presented by His Majesty King Mswati III, when he took over the SADC Chair in August last year, and it recognizes three key, and mutually-dependent pillars – sustainable energy infrastructure, resource mobilization and inclusive SADC industrialization. In the Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in March 2017, Ministers were motivated and mandated to convene a High-Level Ministerial Workshop and Regional Investment Conference on Regional Energy Projects.

That time has arrived, and the objective of the mandate is clear to us all – for more rapid and inclusive industrialization in our region, we need a very substantial amount of new investment in our energy and water infrastructures. Today’s meeting will enable us to take stock, so to speak, and discuss strategies for the critically important two days ahead. In those discussions there will not only be the Ministers for Energy and Water for the SADC states but also Ministers of other sectors, national, regional and international investors as well as development finance institutions, international cooperating partners and representatives of our respective private sectors.

Already on the table are the strategies and action plans for regional integration, economic growth and alleviation of poverty, all in an environmentally sustained manner, whether capturing the broader picture or disaggregated into sectors. We know that faster industrialization is the key to more rapid economic growth and greater prosperity in a sustainable manner, and we are aware that, without a substantial development of energy and water infrastructure, our development plans cannot be achieved. Of special relevance to this week’s activities are the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan and its Energy Sector Plan, and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. In short, we know what we have to do to achieve our industrialization growth but, equally, we know that the necessary infrastructure demands resources that we currently do not have. They must be mobilized. That is why we are here this week.

We start from a relatively weak base. Our existing infrastructures for both power and water do not yet even meet a large proportion of the basic social needs of our respective peoples, let alone satisfying the massive energy and water needs of an industrialised economy of the present day. Access to electricity in some of our member states is below 20%, while only 60% of SADC’s population has access to safe drinking water. I believe we can all agree that, in the first instance, we would need to obtain, for all our citizens, access to secure, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy and water services.

The Plans and instruments that I have mentioned, among others, aim to create an environment that is conducive for investment and partnerships in the energy and water sectors. Furthermore, owning to the transboundary nature of cooperation in energy and water resource development, these instruments aim to harmonise national and regional policies and regulatory frameworks to enhance regional cooperation and trade. These are vital components in an inclusive industrialisation programme.

The region has identified and prioritized energy generation projects which will run into hundreds of billions of US Dollars, to be implemented from 2015 to 2027. The South African Power Pool (SAPP) itself has identified the following priority transmission projects: ZIZABONA (the Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia), Zimbabwe Central Transmission Corridor, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Interconnector, and the Mozambique Backbone Project.

It is reassuring to report that, while there are still legislative and regulatory challenges that hinder the penetration of renewable energy in Africa, such projects are being given a high priority in the SADC region, supported by pledges towards key international objectives such as the Sustainable Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

There is also an encouraging level of support for implementation of the Demand Side Power Station (DSPS) concept which is being promoted by SAPP. Our region should now fast-track the creation of an enabling regulatory environment, with smart incentives for energy efficient initiatives to thrive, while also building the necessary capacity in the public and private sectors. A low carbon pathway is crucial for SADC to play its role in addressing climate change. We look forward to positive results from the recently established SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

With the focus this week on resource mobilization for investment in energy infrastructure, a key issue on which to focus is the expectations of prospective investors. The plans are in place. The other side of the coin so to speak is implementation and utilization. There will be the need to impress potential investors with our ability to implement our plans and to do so according to schedule, and without impediment through regulatory and other challenges. We also need to convince investors that we are able to create and attract the industry to start up, and then grow through utilizing this greater supply of, as far as possible, cheaper renewable energy.

Successful implementation of an energy infrastructure programme, and the resultant industrialization, will be heavily dependent on an adequate supply of water.   The SADC region, however, is currently at only 14% of stored renewable water resources. That is very low by comparison with the 70-90% of industrialised countries. In Swaziland we have worked hard to raise our level of water resources, now at 17% of storage capacity, with feasibility studies completed to guide investment in further storage infrastructure to protect us from the impact of any future drought conditions.

As we all know, there is an encouraging increased rate of water infrastructure projects in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) that I mentioned earlier. The role of our cooperating partners in financing infrastructure investment is highly appreciated. Swaziland and Mozambique are grateful for being beneficiaries from the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund, the resources being for the Lomahasha/Namaacha potable water supply project which will benefit around 46,000 people by 2024.

I conclude, Honourable Ministers, with my best wishes for fruitful discussions during today’s meeting in preparation for the coming two days that will represent a highly significant stage in the process of accelerating inclusive industrialization of the economies of SADC member states.

Thank you.

 

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