MASERU- Government of Lesotho and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed a financing agreement of M151.76 million (UA7.78 million) for the urban electricity distribution, rehabilitation, transmission and expansion project.
The project is expected to rehabilitate and refurbish the electricity power distribution network across the country to improve the availability and reliability of electricity to consumers. It will be realized through upgrading transmission lines and rehabilitation of the distribution network from Quthing to Mohale’s Hoek, Roma to Thaba-Tseka, as well as to Maseru, Teyateyaneng, Butha Buthe and Letšeng Diamond mine.
Speaking at the occasion of the signing ceremony on Friday, Minister of Finance Tlohang Sekhamane indicated that energy remains one of Lesotho’s major priority sectors as it is critical for growth and socio economic development of the country.
“A vast area of our land especially in the rural areas is not connected to electricity and this poses serious difficulties to livelihoods of our people even though ‘Muela Hydro power station has been a major success for Lesotho with its substantial electricity supply.
“However there are still major challenges in the energy sector with the country importing substantial amounts of electricity from South Africa and Mozambique and we hope we will overcome this challenge through this project,” he said.
He indicated that switching and substations will be rehabilitated and upgraded while the building structures which house the switching stations will be refurbished. He also noted that the project will touch all the economic sectors, thus improving the livelihoods of households in the country.
Sekhamane also noted that the government of Lesotho is fully committed to providing the necessary counterpart contribution to the project to ensure its successful implementation.
Meanwhile, Director-General of the AfDB Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office Dr. Tonia Kandiero said the gesture is an indication of the bank’s support in helping to achieve the national electricity access target of 50% by 2020.
“This financing loan agreement will assist the government in the rehabilitation of 188kms of distribution lines and 13 switching stations, expansion of the transmission network through the upgrade of a substation and construction of 8kms of transmission lines,” she said.
She said the project which is expected to create 140 jobs during construction will make Lesotho less reliant on power imports and also facilitate participation of the private sector in renewable energy generation through participation of the Energy Resource Map and the Cost of Service study that will recommend a sustainable tariff structure for the sector.
Kandiero mentioned that the project is a way that AfDB responded to the development mandate (of Sustainable Development Goals and United Nations Conference on Climate Change) through which the global community tasked the multilateral development banks to significantly scale up their activities through leveraging and crowding in financial resources.
Since 1975 Lesotho has received USD 1.2 billion from AfDB that assisted the country in the areas of infrastructure in roads, water supply, sanitation and power supply, among others.