Eswatini plans to issue a request for proposals “very, very soon” for a 40MW solar PV project, energy minister Peter Bhembe told the Africa Energy Indaba conference in Cape Town on 3-4 March. The ministry began prequalification for the project in June last year in an effort to reduce reliance on imports from South Africa (AE 345/12). Bhembe said a 40MW biomass plant would follow. He said construction of the 10MW Lavumisa solar PV plant was going well and the plant is expected to begin operating in August.

Thirteen bidders were selected from 26 bids in October: African Clean Energy Development, Cingenco, EDF Renouvelables, eSwatini Green Energy Consortium, Globeleq Africa Holdings Ltd, Green Yellow Indian Ocean, ib Vogt GmbH and eSwatini Sustainable Energy Ltd, InnoVent SAS, JCM Umber, and Mulilo Renewable Project Developments, Sola Group and Ubombo Sugar Consortium, Sturdee Energy Southern Africa, and the T Colle/Jabil Consortium.

Bhembe said private sector involvement in the power sector was essential for targets to be met, adding that the country had tried to take a consultative approach involving all stakeholders and recognising both government and private sector aims. He said eSwatini had developed an effective IPP policy alongside a long-term energy masterplan and a short-term implementation plan. He said pre-paid metering meant that Eswatini Electricity Company was the country’s most profitable parastatal and underpinned the utility’s ability to finance projects itself.