LEC extends Mozambique power deal

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Bereng Mpaki

LESOTHO has extended its bulk electricity purchase agreement with Mozambique for another year, the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) has said.

The contract, which is in the region of US$7, 4 million (about M103, 6 million) will see Mozambique’s power utility company Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) supplying additional power of 35 megawatts (MW) to Lesotho for the next 12 months.

EDM supplies 22 percent of Lesotho’s power consumption with the rest of the power coming from the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority’s ‘Muela Hydro-power station and South Africa’s Eskom.

LEC public relations manager Tšepang Ledia confirmed the new power deal to the Lesotho Times this week.

He said Lesotho opts for shorter term contracts because of fluctuations in power prices in different countries from time to time. The expired contract also ran for one year.

“The reason we are having one-year contracts is influenced by the fact that power prices can vary from one year to another such that you may find EDM prices being higher than those of Eskom, in which case it will be advisable for us to switch to buying power from South Africa,” Mr Ledia said.

“We therefore cannot restrict ourselves to a long term contract because that could be detrimental to us when there is more affordable power elsewhere that we could buy in future.”

On power generation challenges that are being experienced by South Africa, Mr Ledia said this should not be seen as a serious challenge to Lesotho.

“South Africa’s current challenges are not expected to negatively affect Lesotho as a whole, except for the two districts of Qacha’s Nek and Mokhotlong which are getting power directly from South African power lines.”

“However, as LEC in our current tariff review application we have proposed the purchasing of two standby generators to close the power outage gap during load shedding,” Mr Ledia said.

Mr Ledia further indicated that negotiations for Lesotho to get power from the South African Power Pool (SAPP) are at an advanced stage.

“We are currently in negotiations with South Africa so that their power network can carry the power from the supplying country to arrive in Lesotho since we are completely surrounded by South Africa.”

SAPP is a union of southern African countries that facilitates interconnected electrical system in the region from which member countries can purchase electricity at affordable prices.

The SAPP has twelve member countries namely Botswana, Malawi, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe. All the countries are represented by their respective power utilities organised through SADC.

Meanwhile, announcing the agreement in Maputo last Friday, the EDM chairperson, Ali Sicola, said Mozambique’s responsibility is to transmit the electricity to its border with South Africa. It would then use the existing power lines inside South Africa for transmission to Lesotho.

Mr Sicola said the agreement is “very important”, not only for Lesotho’s development and electrification projects but also for EDM which will earn substantial income from the deal.

Also at the signing ceremony, the acting managing director of LEC, Leketekete Ketso, also stressed the importance of the contract.

“Reliable supply of electricity is indissociably linked to the economic development of our countries.

“The agreement strengthens the existing friendship between the peoples of Lesotho and of Mozambique. Let us all collaborate in various fields of mutual interest, in order to improve the lives of the people we serve,” Mr Ketso said.

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