South Africa, Namibia to pursue Orange River hydro project

The presidents of South Africa and Namibia have given approval to study a joint hydroelectric project on the Orange River, which forms the countries’ common border.

South Africa President Thako Mbeki played host October 11 to Namibia President Hifikepunye Pohamba at the South Africa-Namibia Heads of State Economic Bilateral meeting.

South Africa Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said the meeting advanced cooperation between the countries’ ministries and their utilities in areas including a possible Orange River hydro project.

�We have received a progress report and it is clear that by the next meeting they will be able to mark some progress in this area,� Mpahlwa said after the meeting. �So the Orange River, which is the river between the two countries, presents opportunities for hydropower generation and we have agreed in this meeting that work should proceed to look at the possibility of creating a hydroelectric power plant along the Orange River.�

Mpahlwa and Namibia Trade and Industry Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko said the two governments agreed that where potential has been identified, the work should proceed for development purposes.

�As far as we are concerned a 30-MW power plant would make a serious impact in providing energy to some parts of our country, especially the southern areas,� Ngatjizeko said. �So we think we should be using whatever resources are available and accessible to generate this power.�

South Africa already operates two major hydropower projects on the Orange River, 360-MW Gariep and 240-MW Vanderkloof. With the largest and second largest reservoirs in the country, Gariep and Vanderkloof are the most significant conventional hydro plants in South Africa.

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