By ALEC LUSHABA | 2020-06-30
NATURAL Resources and Energy Minister Peter Bhembe has allayed investors fears in energy and the mining sector that any project that will be piloted or undertaken under the Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan will go through a competitive bidding process.
Fears were already abound that some projects in these sectors may not follow the normal legal processes but be sanctioned under the National Emergency guidelines under Section 31 of the National Disaster Management Act, 2006 which gives the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini authority to take such actions as he considers necessary and appropriate to counter the effects of the disaster.
Giving clarity on the issue, the Natural Resources and Energy Minister Bhembe said: “Kindly note that Business Eswatini due to the COVID-19 pandemic, advertised to companies to submit private sector projects that will be quickly implemented to pick up the economy and alleviate unemployment issues.
These submitted projects included that of the biomass power plant. It is worth mentioning that on the Economic Recovery Plan, some of these projects do not need processes, therefore they will be of first preference on consideration and recommendation.
“It is also worth mentioning that there are a lot of other listed projects on the plan that need to go through certain processes, such as the biomass project and mining projects as well, just to name a few, which has to go through the normal processes.”
The minister further explained that the proposed plan was presented before Cabinet yesterday; hence the said document hasn’t been approved yet.
Bhembe insisted that, “All projects will follow the normal processes.”
The investors in the energy sector were concerned with the plan if it were to bypass the normal processes, as that would jeorpadise the good work already done by the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) in its competitive bidding processes for the 40MW solar projects, which now is at its final stages. It is said ESERA is looking at making its final decision by September and the project has the potential to generate E2 billion worth of investment for the country.
ESERA is reported to be ready to issue 15MW licences bids for biomass energy projects following the same processes as per the Electricity Act of 2007. A local company director whose company had previously indicated interest to participate in the biomass project said they were not going to participate in its current form, as it is not conducive to a cost-effective or efficient process.
“Eswatini continues to be over-regulated, without sufficiently clear policy guidelines. Our company has both the capacity and demand to revisit this decision should the necessary policy changes be implemented to facilitate the required significant investment,” the director said.
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