SADC governments should cooperate to enhance cross-border energy trade

//KHARAS governor Aletha Frederick says governments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region should cooperate to establish needed regulatory frameworks and infrastructure to provide assurance for cross-border energy trade and to enhance regional connectivity.

She made the remarks yesterday at a 30-year land lease signing agreement ceremony between !Gawachab conservancy in //Kharas region with Ikhaya Somandla family enterprise, at Keetmanshoop. Ikhaya Somandla is a Namibian-owned company focusing on energy and property development.

The land lease agreement is expected to pave the way for the development of a billion-dollar renewable energy project. The planned solar plant will be developed on 2 500 hectares of land at Klein Karas Farm, owned by the //Gawachab Conservancy. The plant is expected to supply 1 625 megawatts of electricity to the national grid and the remainder to the Southern African Power Pool.

“This is one of the important and bold strides taken by ISF Trading in shaping the energy sector, especially with regard to intensifying our efforts of scaling up the production of renewable energy and curbing the effects of climate change.

“Indeed, your efforts will assist us in addressing the green economy value chain to create employment and alleviate poverty. We are grateful that you have committed the technologies and financial resources to our region for investment in solar energy initiatives,” said Frederick.

The proposed !Gawachab Solar Park project is a US$1,6 billion-dollar investment to be funded by Angolan investors and the European Investment Bank in Lisbon to produce 1 625 megawatts of electricity.

Ikhaya Somandla representative James Links said the solar park is aimed at benefiting future generations as the company through its corporate social responsibility has committed itself to improving the livelihoods of those living in the conservancy and to lure people who left for a better life back home.

“Construction of the plant is expected to start in 2026 while an environmental impact assessment will commence soon after the signing of the land lease agreement. Once operational, we will share access power with the national grid and also the Southern African Power Pool, provided we have enough solar energy left after own consumption,” said Links.

The //Gawachab Conservancy will receive a monthly lease amount of N$40 000 for the land, which will increase by 2% annually from the signing of the lease agreement, said Links.

“We will also pay over 5% of all profits made once operational to the conservancy’s management committee. Twenty-five percent of all goods, materials and services needed will be sourced locally, while employment opportunities will be created accordingly. We will also place emphasis on skills transfer to empower the members,” said the representative.

The chairperson of the !Gawachab Conservancy, Johannes Petrus Markus, says the benefits derived from this agreement and its spinoffs will ease hardships experienced in the conservancy, including water shortages.

“With this kind of project, we will be able to overcome these hurdles in our conservancy, and with this project, we will be able to ensure that our members can benefit to the fullest,” said Markus.

The project is expected to have a lifespan of 30 years.

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