Swaziland Basic Energy Facts
Energy is a vital commodity in all sectors of the society, and the specific characteristics of energy supply and consumption patterns have a number of important implications for the development of a country. Energy inputs such as electricity and fuels are essential to generate jobs, industrial activities, transportation, commerce, micro-enterprises and agriculture inputs.
Energy is particularly important for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Access to energy is crucial for the achievement of a number of MDGs including halving the poverty rate, reducing hunger, improving access to safe drinking water, reducing child and maternal mortality, reducing disease such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and environmental sustainability. However, the available energy services are not sufficient to meet the needs of the poor. Therefore, there is need for commitment to increase access to energy sources, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. Biomass energy is unfortunately diminishing whilst a number of people in the rural areas still depend on this resource for cooking and heating purposes.
The main sources by which the country meets its energy needs are electricity, coal, petroleum products and renewable and waste. In 2007 the major sources of energy supply in the country were renewable and waste (from the sugar companies and the wood pulp companies) and Petroleum, followed by coal and Electricity. Annual total primary energy supply was 71,567.27TJ. Below is a share of each energy source out of the total energy supply in the country.
The Energy Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy is the custodian of policy and operational activities pertaining to the energy sector. Its mission is to effectively manage the national energy resources and to work towards affordable and sustainable energy provision for all the people in the country, whilst ensuring the international competitiveness of the energy sector.
(Sourced from Energy – Sectoral Development Plan, 2006)
"Low income households in Swaziland use various forms of energy. Most Households in rural areas use firewood whilst paraffin (kerosene) meets the majority in peri-urban energy needs. To a limited extent, electricity is also used by rural households. In extreme cases, other household are pushed to low quality sources of energy such as dry cow dung and dry maize stalks are used for cooking. Paraffin, coal and wood have low quality, substandard end use devices, which pose respiratory risks; they are hazardous, with children and the elderly being the most affected. The use of renewable energy (solar Photo Voltaic Systems) although more sustainable, is minimal and expensive, and is susceptible to theft.
Only about 5% of households in Swaziland have access to electricity. It is estimated that 30% of the all households in the country use paraffin and 10% use Liquid Petroleum Gas, for cooking. For rural households the three-stone cooking technology is the most prevalent, whilst paraffin based technologies are the most prevalent among the low income urban and peri-urban households. Generally, cooking technologies that use modern energy carriers are available even in small towns through out the country. Awareness and experience with high efficiency improved wood fuel cooking stoves is very limited. The use of paraffin and LPG is limited to those who can afford in the rural areas. Therefore, wood fuel is the most used source of energy in the rural areas for over 70% of households, and it also accounts for 65% of the country’s total energy consumption.” Cited from; Renewable Energy – Swaziland Case Study Brochure 2004.
Biomass, especially wood fuel, constitutes about 90% of the total energy consumed and is still dominant in cooking and heating in rural areas. Biomass is not only the major fuel in households, but also the major source of electricity self-generation in the sugar, pulp and saw mill industries.
Over the last ten years, an increasing population has placed a high burden on the country's indigenous woodlands and forests, and in certain areas, biomass resources have been coming under pressure. More and more woodland is being cleared for agricultural production and the grazing of cattle, while at the same time the demand for wood fuel is not decreasing. There are indications that local shortages exist in the Lowveld and parts of the Upper Middleveld, in particular around dense settlements and arable areas.
Such localised shortages are having an increasingly negative impact on communities in these areas. Households have to travel further and further to collect wood fuel. This has an immediate impact on the women and children of the households who are frequently responsible for the collection of firewood. They have to walk much greater distances and spend more time carrying out this task, at the expense of other activities in the home such as education, income generating activities, looking after the family.
This deforestation is also impacting heavily on the environment, with increasing desertification and soil erosion. Valuable top soils are being washed away, causing extensive downstream siltation. The heavy rains also result in the formation of gulleys, a frequent cause of injury and death to cattle.
This deforestation is also resulting in soil erosion and desertification, as the root structures are no more there to hold the rich surface soils in place. These soils, including the nutrients necessary for growing new trees are washed away during the rains and in the worst cases, dongas are formed, causing hazards to cattle and other animals.
So, trees are necessary to provide woodfuel for rural household energy needs, but their use can also cause environmental damage. In addition, as woodfuel is burned carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is emitted to the atmosphere adding to global warming.
There are two major ways to reduce these problems, firstly to ensure that the burning of wood fuel is carried out in a more efficient manner and secondly to replace the trees that are chopped down. In the draft Swaziland National Energy Policy, government endorsed both of these activities. It aims to promote the development and dissemination of improved cooking technologies and also to encourage the establishment of communal multipurpose woodlots and individual tree growing. The draft National Forest Policy emphasises that these measures must be taken to ensure sustainable supply of fuel wood to meet the needs of communities.
Within the country, there is already expertise and experience in both the public and private sector on the use and manufacture of high efficiency wood-stoves. The Government is also piloting community woodlots and is presently due to evaluate the experience of the communities.
Even with the extensive rural electrification programmes throughout the country, it is unlikely that many people will change to using electricity for cooking due to the higher costs.
Coal is the only naturally occurring fossil fuel in the country, and there are large reserves of low-volatile and low sulphur anthracite coal of medium to high quality, this coal is relatively smokeless and thus environmentally less harmful than most other coal types, but it does not ignite easily. The Maloma Colliery is producing anthracite coal, which is the best quality coal with low ash, high carbon content but is also of low volatility. It has low sulphur content which makes it more environmentally benign. Because of its high quality, it is thus much more expensive than the bituminous coal from South Africa. That is why it is not sold locally but exported to be used in the metallurgical industry. Substantial reserves have been determined.
Swaziland's solar regime is not well documented and it is necessary to collect sufficient and reliable data so as to map out the resource. However, indications from SADC maps and from satellite images, and from sunshine hour data collected indicate that annual averages could lie between 4 to 6 kWh/m2/day.
In 1992 the Energy Section established an extensive solar pilot project mainly to electrify clinics and schools. Several street lighting, solar water heating and vaccine refrigeration systems were also deployed through the project. The project results indicated that the solar resources was sufficient in many areas throughout the country but that certain institutional and technical barriers needed to be overcome in future projects.
As at 1998, the Swaziland Electricity Board (SEB) had 40.5 MW of installed hydro generating capacity which contributed 194.4 GWh. A 19MW hydro power station was built below the Maguga Dam. In November 2004, Alston Power and Consolidated Power Ltd. signed contracts with the SEB to supply and install turbines and generators, as well as to construct and commission substations for the Maguga power project. The Maguga project is part of the Swazi government's plan to reduce the importation of electricity since about 80 percent of the country's electricity is supplied by South Africa.
In August 2003, the SEB and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a $9.3 million loan agreement for the construction of a hydroelectric power station at the Maguga dam on the Komati River.
The ministry is currently promoting the development of a Biofuels (Bio ethanol and biodiesel) Industry in the country which will enetail blesndiing of 10% anhydrous ethanlo with 90% unleaded petrol.
Government policies and infrastructure
The Energy Policy Advisory Committee is responsible for advising the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy (MNRE) in decisions taken in connection with policy formulation.
In 2002, the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy (MNRE) conducted an overhaul of the Swaziland energy sector with the formulation of a Swaziland National Energy Policy Project (SNEPP) which sought to ensure that the energy needs in the country were covered in a sustainable and efficient manner, taking into account indigenous resources, social, economic and environmental factors.
To achieve this objective, the following outputs were produced:
- A draft National Energy Policy was prepared for submission to Cabinet
- Solar, Wind and Hydropower Measurements and Assessments were collected
- Assessment and Strengthening of Capacity of the Energy Section; and
- Awareness Increased on Energy Issues for Stakeholders and Energy Consumers
After a number of stakeholder workshops were conducted during the policy formulation process, a second draft of a National Energy Policy Paper was prepared and presented to The Energy Policy Advisory Committee and for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for comments, before a final draft was prepared and submitted to the Cabinet for consideration and approval.
Links to policy research documents:
Swaziland National Energy Policy, 2002.
Swaziland Forest Policy Green Paper
Sustainability Indicators for Swaziland