By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Minister of Energy Prof Nqosa Mahao said he is striving for the country to reach energy sufficiency.

This he told this publication post the budget speech tabling by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane.

Prof mentioned that the government has engaged an independent producer who is expected to generate 20 megawatts at Marothole plant and they are expected to commence work in this financial year starting from April 1.

Completed and handed over to the government last year, phase one of the Marothole Solar Power Station, which generates 30 megawatts of electricity, has contributed to the country’s energy pool.

Prof Mahao said processes have been completed for phase two of the project to commence at Marothole. The phase two is expected to produce 50 megawatts and he said they are awaiting a green light from the government of the People’s Republic of China which is financing this project through the loan which Lesotho will service at a later stage.

For this financial year, the Ministry of Energy has been allocated M1.1 billion to enhance energy provision in the country.

Reacting to this allocation for his Ministry, Prof Mahao said they are reasonably happy as their plans for the current year have been supplied adding that they will make use of the resources at their disposal.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) requested a 62% adjustment will be required for the three year period.

LEC wants a 23% overall increase for the year 2023/24 and also a 15% increase for each of 2024/25 and 2025/26. 

It purchases power from the ‘Muela Hydropower Station which produces 72 megawatts of electricity, and sells it to the public. It supplements with the additional power from South Africa’s Eskom and Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) in Mozambique.

From October to March 2025, the country through the ‘Muela Hydropower Station will not be producing electricity as this facility will be undergoing the six months routine maintenance. This means LEC is going to need extra power from Eskom and EDM.

As there are fears that the country could experience load shedding, Prof Mahao allayed worries of the public saying necessary arrangements have been made to ensure enough supply while the ‘Muela facility is undergoing maintenance.

“We have taken care of that, what we have done is to buy additional supply from Mozambique and South Africa for that period,” he assured.

Dr Matlanyane said as government they are pushing for the country to become a net exporter of clean energy.

The Minister of Finance said at least 50 000 connections will be made this year, 25 000 which will be connected to the main grid while the remaining 25 000 will be connected to the mini-grids around the country that are constructed through the public private partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Some of the places that are expected to be connected are Thaba-Phats’oa, Ha-Lesoiti, Mohlakeng, Sekhutlong, Ha-Leponesa, Koalabata, Melling and Ts’abalira.

To alleviate the load shedding that has rocked Qacha’s Nek and Thaba-Tseka as they are connected to the SA’s Eskom that experiences loads shedding from time to time, the Minister said two transmission lines will be extended to these districts.

Prof Mahao promised that by midyear this year, Mokhotlong will no longer be connected to Eskom and it will no longer experience load shedding.