NDOLA: The World Cup finals in South Africa, which ended on Sunday presented opportunities and challenges in areas of business, economy, technology, culture/heritage and others.
One challenge that the soccer World Cup exposed is the need for electricity inter-connector projects such as the ones in the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP). If the generation capacity in the SADC region had been increased long before the World Cup, South Africa's neighbours would have supplied it with excess electricity.
Countries with higher generation capacity like Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would have supplied deficient ones like Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa itself even if it is Africa's major producer. A research recently conducted has shown that some soccer fans missed some World Cup matches due to load shedding, particularly in Zambia and Zimbabwe. As a result of the football event, there was increased demand for electricity on television sets, satellite dishes as well as air conditioning/lighting/heating in the rooms in which the matches were being watched. Apart from that, there was requirement for electricity at stadiums for visibility and security at the hotels where the players, coaches and match officials had been lodging in South Africa.
To ration power, the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) resorted to load shedding. As a result, some residents in low-density areas in Ndola used to flock to areas where electricity was generated by diesel generators to feed the television sets.
In Zimbabwe, another research has shown that the Ministry of Energy and Power Development imposed load shedding directly in connection with the World Cup in South Africa. One
Power savings were being channelled to city dwellers in Harare and other places to allow citizens there to watch football matches.
Farmers questioned why wheat irrigation facilities had been targeted for cuts in order to relocate power to urban areas for "leisure" (watching football on TV) at the expense of food production.
The real answer is for SADC countries to next time look at power projects from a regional perspective. If SADC countries had increased power generation capacity before the World Cup, excess power would have been channelled to South Africa whose requirement increased due to the global event.
There is need to co-operate and collaborate by several countries on power projects owing to high capital costs involved. Just Zimbabwe and Zambia need more than US$10 billion to increase their generation capacities.
By exporting power, countries can increase economies of scale or improve on return on investments, which are low if individual economies of the countries are taken into consideration. Pooling power can also be beneficial in the sense that countries with deficits like Botswana can benefit.
Other countries like Zambia and the DRC have a combined capacity that can supply electricity to the entire continent.Zambia,which needs US$6 billion in the next five years to develop new hydro power stations,can export to deficient countries including Botswana,which may not get power from South Africa after 2012.(Sila Press Agency)