Creating a harmonic and efficient regional energy environment

Image: Samuel (Right of the picture) Harrison Mulabura (Centre) and Katende Chilemu  – Financial Analyst ESREM.

Tanzanian alumnus Samuel Mgweno is a professional engineer currently working at the Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern African countries (RERA-SADC) as a project officer on the Enhancement of Sustainable Regional Energy Markets (ESREM) project for Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Member States.

The skills and knowledge that Samuel gained from the Short Course Award on Public-Private Infrastructure Partnerships made him appreciate how the public sector can leverage on private sector finance and technical expertise to develop and operate infrastructure projects. From the short course, it was evident for Samuel that, “once governments have laid down conducive environments which mitigate and address apparent and perceived risks” through appropriate policy and legal frameworks, the private sector will respond positively by bringing investments of capital, technology and expertise.

Samuel has drawn from his experience and applied lessons from the short course to the implementation of the ESREM project and the development of a model regulatory framework and regulatory oversight of the three regional economic blocks. Once the integrated frameworks, which Samuel is developing, come into effect, power plants installed in one country, for example, Tanzania, would be able to sell the electricity to a buyer in another country, for instance, South Africa, if it were more economical to do so.

This regional and harmonised regulatory framework, together with the presence of a regional regulatory oversight body, will significantly minimise the regulatory risks faced by investors and developers. Furthermore, the harmonisation of grid connection rules and standards for integrated renewable energy would motivate investors to install power plants in a resource area and export these to load centres beyond borders.

Integrating the energy market, at a regional level, will achieve achievement efficiencies of scale and scope. From an investment perspective, this will drive more returns from both public and private investment due to a broader market. From a consumer perspective, increased supply of efficient energy will imply lower costs, increase productivity and increased competitiveness.

Before joining the ESREM regional initiative, Samuel worked at the Energy Department, under the Ministry of Energy and Minerals in Tanzania, as an energy engineer. He was responsible for policy and strategy development to facilitate a conducive environment towards availability, access and affordability of energy sources and resources and their sustainable utilisation.

The ESREM project provides infrastructure support for the energy sector and addresses market governance and related regulatory challenges affecting the implementation of energy development projects in the region. It also promotes the use of relevant international standards as a basis for technical regulations and identifies instruments for trade facilitation such as the harmonisation and or equivalence of technical regulations. In doing so, it contributes to the progressive achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7 (ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and SDG 12 (ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns). Samuel is contributing to achieving these goals in the region. His Australia Award has equipped him with the technical knowledge and leadership qualities required to lead the ESREM initiative and manage the 27-member state partnership.

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