Senior Engineer at the Electricity Control Board (ECB), Lameka Amuanyena, says currently about 300,000 households nationwide are unelectrified.
This figure is expected to double by 2040 when universal access is reached and new connections are currently in the range of 2,000 to 4,000 connections per annum.
At this rate, she said by 2040 only 40,000 80,000 new connections will be made and this is a shortfall of the 600,000 connections target. “To achieve the target, we need about 30,000 new connections (10 times what we are doing now). Of 600,000 new connections, 450,000 need to be grid-based and150,000 to be off-grid connections,” she says. Adding that electrification in recent years has been done by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), NamPower and, to a lesser extent, by investments made by distributors and thus more needs to be done. In terms of ECB’s Effort in Electrification, she notes that the ECB is in the process of reviewing and updating the electrification targets set out in the Dx License Conditions in the next financial year (2023/2024).
Similarly, MME Executive Director, Simeon Negumbo, says the ministry estimates are that between 70 to 80% of rural households do not have access to electricity and advanced technology, with the figures in urban localities being much better, where around 70% of households in urban areas are connected to the grid. Negumbo adds that the 300,000 unelectrified households nationwide translates into about 50 percent of households that are without electricity. He says this is a great number of people that do not have the means to hit a switch and have lights on so their children can study at night or cook using modern stoves or preserve their food and drinks in a refrigerator or run a barber shop or salon that requires electricity to make money and support their families. “It might seem to have been a very long time to reach our desired electrification rate but taking the limited resources and the competing needs for rural electrification into consideration, every little milestone counts as an achievement. Today’s e
vent signifies the beginning of another milestone where the Electricity supply industry stakeholders, our development partners, local and international financing institutions get together to deliberate on the possible solutions to our electrification challenge,” he says. Negumbo notes that electrification is a national challenge and one which the government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy is committed to take on. To this end, he adds that the Harambee Prosperity Plan
(HPPII) has set targets to put the framework in place to speed up the rate of electrification and in-line with government goals, the MME has set a target to have all the households in Namibia electrified by 2040 or what we in the industry call universal access.
“Achieving universal access is easier said than done. Namibia is a very large country and has a very small population, as a country we have a population density of around 3 persons per square kilometer. Extending the grid to all the corners of our country in this context is very expensive, as electricity infrastructure must be maintained and replaced when it gets old.”
Pointing out this is a daunting task and calling for more coordination and involvement from all stakeholders (commercial banks, development partners, development financial institutions, local and international financing institutions.
Jens Jaeger, Director of Policy & Business Development for Alliance for Rural Electrification says that at present, 43% of the total population lack access to electricity, most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa adding that access to sustainable electricity for all in Africa requires bringing connections to 90 over million people a year, which is three times the current rate.
“The goal of universal access to modern energy calls for investments of USD 25 billion per year. This is around 1% of global energy investment today. Extending the main grid to remote areas is expensive as unit costs of serving sparsely populated regions is high, challenging terrains and infrastructure and poverty is three times higher in rural areas than in urban, which limits the ability of rural communities to pay for electricity,” he says. The occasion was the commemoration of the Electrification Day in the capital.