Hardap and //KarasRegional Councils push to kick NamPower out of SORED shares

Martin Endjala

Apart from pushing to join the Southern Regional Electricity Distribution (SORED) Company, the leadership of Hardap and //Kharas Regional Council are further pushing for another company called //AU-OB Electricity Distribution to get shares in SORED, a deal that exclude Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower).

The two regions leadership kept Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni, in the dark about their plans, and failed to seek approval from the minister as per the Regional Councils Act of 1992 and the Local Authorities Councils Act of 1992.

In a letter dated 14 August 2023, seen by this publication, Uutoni wrote to Hardap Regional Council Chairperson Gershon Dausab, informing him that the ministry is not informed about such plans, because he has only been consulted on and supports only the initiative of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Electricity Control Board (ECB) to establish SORED, but not to have //AU-OB Electricity Distribution Company having shares in SORED while excluding NamPower.

However, the two ministries and ECB are yet to meet to agree on the final way forward on SORED establishment.

Uutoni wrote the letter seeking for clarification after Dausab sent out a communication inviting the Regional Councils and Local Authorities in the Hardap and //Kharas regions to a meeting meant to discuss the finalisation of //AU-OB Electricity Distribution Company establishment. Because the new development of having //AU-OB Electricity Distribution company joining SORED as a shareholder has not reached his office yet.

“We are yet to be consulted and given the reasons for any change from SORED and any other shareholding arrangement as suggested under //AU-OB Electricity Distribution Company. MURD also wishes to put it on record that it has so far only been in communication with MME, and has never communicated its position to the Regional Councils and local authorities in Hardap and //Kharas Regions,” he said.

Uutoni reminded Dausab to acquaint himself with the Regional Councils Act of 1992 as amended and the Local Authorities Councils Act of 1992, which requires for prior consultation with and approval of the Minister on any joint venture arrangements.

Uutoni said that his ministry is only aware of and has pledged its support to the establishment of SORED to which NamPower is part of, and was neither consulted nor expressed its position on the change from a shareholding arrangement involving NamPower under the name SORED to //AU-OB Electricity Distribution Company whose draft shareholding agreement excludes NamPower.

“This Ministry received from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, for its scrutiny and onward transmission to the Attorney General, draft shareholding and asset transfer agreements with NamPower and local authorities in the Hardap and //Kharas regions as envisaged shareholders. We, on 23 February 2022, referred the said draft agreements to the Attorney General for scrutiny and clearance.

“The Attorney General’s opinion and comments, received on 19 January 2023, were subsequently transmitted to the Ministry of Mines and Energy under our cover letter dated 1 March 2023, which letter also requested for a further consultation between the two Ministries in order to agree on the final way forward. The two Ministries are yet to meet and reach consensus in this regard,” explained Uutoni.

Last month, Mariental and Keetmanshoop residents demonstrated against the establishment of SORED, and accused Dausab and his colleagues at the Regional Council of trying to introduce a “middleman” in the distribution of electricity. Which they claim would increase the costs of buying electricity and they were not consulted.

However, Dausab defended the plan and said they will go ahead as planned with or without the approval of residents, because those protesting are doing so because of ignorance after they refused to listen to the council.

Efforts to get comment from Dausab proved futile as several calls and messages to his cell phone went unanswered.

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