October 2, 2003

Country faces power crunch

NamPower is worried about the increasing demand for electricity in Namibia as it battles to find additional sources of power. "The demand is growing fast," the power utility's Managing Director, Dr Leake Hangala, said yesterday. In fact, he indicated, the power resources of southern African, which have remained relatively static over the past decade, will be tested as the region strives to meet development needs and burgeoning industrial demands.

In Namibia, companies such as the newly commissioned Skorpion zinc mine and refinery and the Ramatex Textile Factory are demanding higher voltage. For example, the NamPower MD said, Ramatex runs at 30 megawatts - more than is needed to run the entire Walvis Bay.

Hangala was speaking at the signing of an agreement between NamPower and Nored (the Northern Region Electricity Distributor) in Windhoek yesterday. He said NamPower was negotiating with South Africa for supplementary power to meet the ever-increasing local demand for power. But, he added, South Africa was also battling to cope with demand for electricity at home.

Hangala noted that in the last 10 years no big power plant had been built in southern Africa, except one in Angola which was destroyed during the civil war. "So, we face a situation where SADC will not have much power available. It is a very worrying situation. And the Kunene (river) is also drying up," the NamPower MD said.

The leader of the DTA-UDF opposition, Katuutire Kaura, urged to return the responsibility for supplying water from private firms to the Government. His comments follow NamWater's decision to cut water to several towns across the country because they failed to pay their accounts. Speaking in the National Assembly, Kaura argued that the provision of water should not be "privatised". He demanded that water be provided free of charge to vulnerable groups. "Why should we punish a peasant farmer for not paying his water bill while his annual income is perhaps below N$24 000, the threshold from where salaried income is taxed," he asked. He cited the plight of Rundu residents, who are allegedly drawing water from the river and where hospitals and schools are struggling to maintain hygienic standards because of water shortages. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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