Aiming at being power sufficient by 2034, Eswatini’s Energy Masterplan aims at providing a roadmap towards a sustainable, environmentally friendly and competitively priced future.
Considered one of the wealthiest nations globally in terms of natural resources, Eswatini is looking to promote sustainable use of renewable energy in order to carry out its Energy Masterplan. Projects using renewable energy resources include traditional biomass such as firewood, wood-waste from the forest industries, bagasse from the sugar industries; hydropower from water and new renewables such as solar and wind which are rapidly being developed.
Four mini-hydro stations, with a total installed electricity capacity of 69.4MW, have ensured great progress has been made in increasing national access to electricity (currently at 78%), contributing to 14-24% of the total energy consumed in the country. CEO of Eswatini’s Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA), Vusumuzi N. Mkhumane states: “We want to improve our power producer base, having a more cost-effective power delivery.”
With timber and sugar industries having the potential to produce 150MW a year from biomass, Montigny is currently carrying out a project to build the largest woody biomass plant on the African continent by using biomass from its 50,000 hectares of plantations to power a renewable biomass power plant on their mill site. “If you are involved in the timber industry, sustainability underpins everything you do,” declares Andrew Le Roux, CEO of Montigny.
Eswatini is the fourth largest producer of sugar in Africa, as largest industry in the nation, sugar cane companies grew 735,000 tonnes of sugar in 2017/18 alone. “The sugar industry is a major contributor to the economy. In fact, it represents 75% of the agricultural output, so, even in the agricultural sector it is a quite significant and a major employer,” declares Phil Mnisi, CEO Eswatini Sugar Association (ESA).
In order to support the sugar belt and other important crops in Eswatini, the government have implemented climate adaptive initiatives: Komati Downstream development Project (KDDP) and Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP). A EUR 36.4 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for LUSIP II will enlarge the available irrigated farmland for local smallholders, directly benefiting about 2,300 smallholder households. Further irrigation projects are being carried through the construction of dams. Samson Sithole, CEO of ESWADE, affirms: “We would like to build a series of dams, one in the north, that will cost about E2 billion, which would link well with the KDDP.”