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Electrification tenders under scrutiny


by Musa Carter
Columns

 

 

The Tender Board of Namibia closed 14 tenders on 17 July.
Of interest are four electrical tenders on the cards from the different regions of Namibia.
The tenders that closed last week Tuesday were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
They basically include the construction of medium voltage and reticulation of low voltage networks, street lighting and connection of Government buildings in the Kunene, Oshikoto and Oshana regions for the 2012/13 financial year and the electrification of Government buildings in the Kavango Region.
The shortage of power supply is a regional problem and the next three to four years will be critical for the region.
In April this year, it was reported as the ‘worst’ region in Namibia with regard to electrification as it has 161 Government schools without electricity.
The Oshikoto Region recorded the third highest figure of 87 while Kunene and Oshana had 44 and 27 schools without electricity, respectively.
The Kavango Region is the worst affected one and attention has to be given to the allocation of the electrification tenders as it is one of the two regions with the triple figures.
Cancelation and extensions of tender closing dates hamper the progress of electrification as tenders are time-bound and have to be completed within a specific time space to allow for further projects to be executed.
For example, tender F1/7-1/2012 (which is different from the one that closed last Tuesday) for the Namibia rural electrification of Government buildings and PV electrical systems, had the closing date shifted from the original date to close on 5th of last month. Although it is in the Kavango Region where tenders like this are massively needed, completion of the project will be delayed.
The time factor for the electrification of Government buildings is of concern due to the power supply situation in the country. For the first time in the history of NamPower, there has been a deficit of 80MW this winter. The deficit is expected to increase to 150MW when the PPA with ZESA comes to an end by 2013 and to 300MW by 2015, mainly due to economic growth, especially from the mining sector.
The question that takes a stance again is whether or not these current electrification tenders will be catered for with the impending electricity deficit. But since NamPower and other utility companies in the region have initiated a number of generation and transmission projects to try and meet the ever-increasing demand for power supply in the country, most of the projects are of a large scale and have currently been delayed due to various reasons, which may include feasibility studies, which take time to be assessed.
So basically, with the progress on tenders of rural electrification, it means more deficits will be experienced and in layman’s terms, the much larger projects need to pick up the pace on their developments so as to cater for Namibia at large because what is the whole point of building electrified schools and Government buildings with no source of electricity?