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EDM’s Race for Universal Access to Electricity

EDM’s Race for Universal Access to Electricity

Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) has a big challenge for the next six years: to help supply around half of the Mozambican population still without access to energy. It’s an arduous mission, but the company guarantees that it will achieve its goal, not least because it has already made great progress. How is the public company planning this journey?

When five years ago the government committed itself to achieving the goal of universal access to energy by 2030, through the Energy for All programme, it appointed Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) to carry out electrification activities, in parallel with the National Energy Fund (FUNAE). Three EDM managers spoke to E&M about the changes this mission is bringing about on the ground and in different contexts of the company’s activity.

Speaking are the Director of Electrification and Projects, Cláudio Dambe, the Director of the Energy Transmission Company, Adriano Jonas, and the Director of Market Operations, Luís Ganje. How is the country doing in each of these areas, from the perspective of the projects being carried out by the state-owned EDM?

Energy for All: “the plan was well prepared”

The director of Electrification and Projects, Cláudio Dambe, explains that within the scope of the Energy for All programme (PROENERGIA), 287.7 million dollars have already been mobilised for the massification of connections, both on and off the grid. In the second phase, 376.8 million dollars have been mobilised for procurement. In addition to the massive connections project, many other projects are being implemented with various partners, aimed at strengthening the primary structure to support the massive connections within the network.

“Today, EDM is implementing projects to strengthen the primary network so that massification doesn’t jeopardise the quality of energy supplied to current and future customers”

Thanks to this effort, according to Cláudio Dambe, the assessment of the pace of expansion is positive. In less than six years, it has been possible to increase access to electricity from 35 per cent to 50 per cent of the population.

Domestic connections have increased every year: in 2018 150,000 families were connected; in 2019 205,000 families; in 2020 304,000 families were connected; in 2021 390,000 families were covered and in 2022 the network embraced 470,000 families. By June this year, 202,000 new families had already been connected.

EDM’s Director of Electrification and Projects also explains that although the number of new connections is being pressurised by the growth in demand, “the project has a lot of merit because the planning was well prepared. It sets a target of 2030 and a process of increasing coverage each year, in the light of the National Electrification Strategy (ENE), adopted under PROENERGIA.” In the meantime, “the question that arises is the anxiety of families” still without access to electricity. “Everyone wants to be covered ‘today’,” he describes.

There has also been progress in terms of the quality [stability] of the energy supplied. A few years ago, EDM admitted to the public that it was facing a dilemma between expanding access to new consumers or investing in improving the quality of the energy supplied to existing customers. In other words, it was difficult to fulfil both objectives at the same time.

The situation has changed. Cláudio Dambe assures us that, “today, EDM is implementing projects to reinforce the primary network so that massification doesn’t jeopardise the quality of the energy supplied to current and future customers”.

The transformative impact of transmission lines

EDM has a number of transmission line investments in the pipeline. One of these is the Temane-Maputo Transmission Line (TTP), says the director of the Energy Transmission Company, Adriano Jonas. This is a 400 kV line that is associated with the construction of the Temane Thermal Power Plant (CTT), in Inhassoro, Inhambane province – a natural gas power plant, the largest in the country after independence, with an installed capacity of 450 MW. CTT will have a major impact on strengthening the energy sector. Adriano Jonas is talking about an addition equivalent to 14 per cent of current electricity supply capacity, an important step towards satisfying demand in Mozambique.

TTP’s role will be to strengthen the security and quality of energy supply, boost the mining industry, agro-industry and contribute to universal access by connecting around 1.5 million new consumers. All this in addition to contributing to the balance of exports, with the surplus energy being generated.

And when will we get there? “Current physical progress is estimated at 65 per cent, compared to the 95 per cent forecast. The deadline for completion was this August. But the forecast now points to the first quarter of 2024, with the line’s availability – for the start of CTT commissioning – expected in May 2024,” explained the director of EDM’s Energy Transport Company.

TTP has an overall cost of around 500 million dollars and, in addition to the energy transport infrastructure, includes resettlement and compensation costs for communities affected by the project.

The project is being financed by the Mozambican government with support from its co-operation partners, namely the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Government of Norway.

“There is an intention to broaden the energy export base to South Africa, and discussions are underway on the technical and commercial details to materialise this interest of the parties.”

Other relevant components on the way

In the second phase, according to Adriano Jonas, the Tete-Vilanculos Transmission Line will be developed, associated with the Mphanda-Nkuwa Hydroelectric Power Station project, with an estimated capacity of 1500 MW, which is currently being developed by the Mphanda Nkuwa Office, supported by EDM and HCB. As for the Temane power station, completion is scheduled for November 2024, with commissioning tests due to start in May of the same year and continue for a period of six months. “There is currently no indication of any delay in relation to the original timetable,” says Adriano Jonas.

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Another floating power station, this time in Maputo

EDM’s Market Operations Director, Luís Ganje, added that EDM plans to station a new generator vessel in Maputo, in partnership with Karpowership, a kind of replica of the “successful” experience in Nacala, where a similar vessel has been supplying electricity to the northern region and neighbouring Zambia since 2016.

“Since the Nacala experience, to respond to the emergency in Zambia, was effective and quick to implement, it can fit perfectly into the response to the current emergency situation in South Africa, settling in the port of Maputo,” argued the official: the South African border is around 100 kilometres from the Mozambican capital and the territory is facing scheduled cuts to deal with the lack of power stations.

The implementation of this solution in the short term depends mainly on the existence of quantities of domestic gas that justify the mobilisation of a new barge for a short period of one to two years of operation. Or, in the medium to long term, consider importing gas or untapped gas sources in Cabo Delgado to implement this solution.

Energy crisis in the RSA: how should Mozambique position itself?

South Africa is experiencing a serious energy crisis with blackouts that have been going on for years and are affecting all sectors of the economy. According to Luís Ganje, this is a situation in which Mozambique must position itself. There could be gains for both sides.

In recent months, there have been new talks with the South African government and it is hoped that this time EDM will supply much more electricity to the neighbouring state. “There are still processes that need to be followed, but in the meantime there is already a very clear signal from the government in the meetings held recently. There is an intention to broaden Mozambique’s energy export base to South Africa, and discussions are underway on the technical and commercial details to materialise this interest on both sides,” explained Luís Ganje. Another 100 MW has already been announced for South Africa, as soon as a commercial agreement is finalised. But Mozambique can supply more. EDM reiterates that it can help put an end to the scheduled outages (or load shedding) in South Africa, which sometimes last for ten hours.

“Given the scale of load shedding in South Africa,” a country that needs 6 GW of extra capacity to bridge the energy deficit, “and given the time horizon set by the South Africans to solve the problem, Mozambique can be part of the solution, providing as much capacity as it can,” explained EDM’s Director of Market Operations. But for this to happen, he added, the capacity must be complemented by other sources and the country already has several generation projects in the pipeline to mitigate the deficit.

“However, in terms of potential and with a commitment on the South African side to receive energy from long-term projects in Mozambique, there is potential for our country to export up to around 3 GW of capacity over the next three to five years,” he emphasised.

There are many arguments for believing that EDM will realise the dream of universal access to energy by 2030 (despite the fact that there is apparently little time left until that deadline), along with the objective of transforming Mozambique into a regional energy hub. Renewables are already playing their part in the process, we just have to wait and see if the targets are met. Let’s hope we’re getting there!


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