Namibia’s vision is to provide universal access to electricity by 2040.
This was emphasised yesterday by Detlof von Oertzen from VO Consulting during a national stakeholder workshop on the development of the National Electrification Policy (NELP) and the National Electrification Funding Portfolio (NELFP), which, through the National Electrification Support Mechanism, was already approved by Cabinet in 2016.
Von Oertzen said the aim of the policy is to create enabling conditions, and to provide guidance and support for existing and new electricity service providers to accelerate and broaden the delivery of electricity services to all end users.
“The goal of NELP is to increase access to electricity services, using innovative technological, public and private sector participation and funding approaches for the benefit of all end-users and Namibia’s development, thereby reaching universal access to electricity by 2040,” he explained.
He added that to date, an estimated 71% of urban and 19% of rural areas of all households have access to electricity, including off-grid supplies, bringing Namibia’s national electrification rate to approximately 45%.
“Government has actively promoted countrywide electrification efforts since independence – and during the past decades, informal areas around urban centres have expanded rapidly, and the rate at which such areas were electrified is often much lower than their growth,” stated Von Oertzen.
He added electrification of low-income households mostly necessitates capital and operational subsidies.
“An obligation to undertake further electrification, especially when including off-grid areas, would increase the risk of utility failure and increase electricity prices, unless external funding is made available,” he cautioned.
Dissecting some of the challenges, Von Oertzen bemoaned the fact that despite diverse requirements associated with the advancement of electrification, the responsibility thereof continues to be mainly shouldered by the line ministry and the electricity supply industry.
He warned electrification acceleration cannot be funded by electricity consumers through increased electricity prices, and that care must be taken not to undermine the viability of electricity distributors by increasing their cost base.
At the same occasion, mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said electricity is a crucial ingredient for economic development. “Electricity is an important input for economic development, and the power sector is an indispensable infrastructure in any economy. Providing affordable electricity is essential for economic development, human welfare and a better standard of living,” said Alweendo.