Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The Mozambican government on Tuesday relieved Gildo Sibumbe of his responsibilities as chairperson of the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, and immediately re-allocated him to a revived electricity Project Implementation Technical Unit (UTIP). Speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly meting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Pedro Couto, said that a second former chairperson of EDM, Augusto de Sousa Fernando, will also work at UTIP. UTIP’s task, Couto said, is to speed up investment projects in electricity generation and transmission. He mentioned in particular the planned “backbone” of the national electricity grid. This will be a new transmission line from Tete province to Beira and Maputo. Talked about for years, it has not so far gone beyond the stage of preliminary studies. Currently power from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi flows directly from the dam town of Songo to the Apollo sub-station in South Africa, since the South African electricity company Eskom is the main client for Cahora Bassa power. 
No Cahora Bassa power goes directly to Maputo. Instead, Maputo and all of southern Mozambique receives its electricity via an Eskom transmission line. It is treated as Cahora Bassa power and EDM pays the Cahora Bassa operating company, HCB, for this electricity. The planned new line will end this clumsy arrangement. It will also be necessary to add more transmission capacity as other electricity generation projects in Tete come on stream. These include a second power station at Cahora Bassa, a new dam and power station at Mpanda Nkua, 60 kilometres downstream from Cahora Bassa, and coal fired power stations planned by mining companies.“In the energy sector there is a series of strategic electricity generation and transmission projects which must be developed during this five year period (2015-2019)”, said Couto. That made it urgent “to revive UTIP so that it can systematically begin the work of checking the state of each of these projects”. UTIP, he added, must deepen existing project studies, propose any necessary innovations, undertake viability studies and, eventually, guarantee the start of implementation. The projects listed in the government’s Five Year Programme, Couto insisted, must at least be started during the government’s term of office.The Tete-Maputo “backbone”, he said, is still at an initial phase of studies, but the government was determined that construction should begin during this five year period. “We want to speed up the project”, said Couto, stressing the importance of making electricity available for development projects. According to President Filipe Nyusi, speaking at the end of Monday’s summit in Gaberone of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the region is currently facing an electricity deficit of about 8,000 megawatts. Much of this could be supplied by Mozambique, if the necessary investment is made in hydropower. The Mepanda Nkua dam alone would add 1,500 megawatts to Mozambique’s generating capacity, and a north bank power station at Cahora Bassa a further 1,000 megawatts.On Tuesday, Nyusi also relieved Joao Machatine of his duties as Deputy Minister of Public Works. The government then immediately appointed Machatine as general director of the country’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), replacing Joao Ribeiro.

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