Power Crisis Worries Pohamba

PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba has admitted that Namibia needs to find alternative energy sources to prevent a power crisis by 2016 when South Africa and Zimbabwe reduce electricity supplies to the country.

Pohamba said South Africa had indicated to NamPower that it may scale down electricity supplies to Namibia in 2016 because it would need more electricity for its own consumption, while Zimbabwe also gave a similar indication but did not provide a timeline.

“We don’t have our own resources of producing electricity. Yes, we have Ruacana, but it cannot supply even half of the country’s (electricity consumption) needs,” said Pohamba, adding that the country faces a challenge in terms of electricity generation.

“We can only talk of electricity independence when the development of the Kudu Gas project is completed (completion set for 2018),” said Pohamba.

The President made the revelation during his visit to the Aussenkehr Grape Valley in the south on Saturday when responding to concerns expressed by the Grape Growers Association chairperson, Andre Vermaak, about the low electricity supply to the Aussenkehr farms, which he said hampers vineyard extension plans.

Pohamba, however, was quick to note that the Mines and Energy Ministry and NamPower have promised to attend to the possible power crisis while aising the grape companies to look at alternative power sources such solar power renewable energy in the meantime.

He also expressed his disappointment over Aussenkehr grape companies’ failure to address their workers’ housing needs.

“I am disappointed that you (grape companies) have not yet provided proper accommodation for workers,” said Pohamba, adding that he was thinking of funding houses on the 660 hectares of land at Aussenkehr farms that had been donated to government to development a town.

On numerous occasions in the past, workers at Aussenkehr farms have decried on how they lived in overcrowded reed structures with no electricity, running water and toilet facilities.

Vermaak told the President that the grape companies are more than willing to provide proper accommodation for their workers, adding that they are just waiting for town development completion.

“We want to invest in the housing of our workers. The town development process must be sped up,” said Vermaak, adding that only 4 000 of the estimated 16 000 residents living at Aussenkehr farms are employed by the grape companies.

The Karasburg constituency regional councillor, Paulus Efraim, revealed that transfers of the donated land to the State have delayed the town development by almost seven years.

According to Efraim, 250 plots had already been serviced on the land earmarked for the town development, and that construction of the houses would soon start when NamWater completes the construction of a water purification plant.

The construction of the purification plant has not started yet.

Source : The Namibian