By Penda Jonas Hashoongo
May 2016
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Between 1995 and 1998 initial studies were conducted on the Epupa and Baynes sites along the Cunene downstream of Ruacana to assess the power generation capabilities of the dam. In 2016, more than two decades later, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze has finally set the wheels in motion for the construction of the power project which is expected to produce about 600 MegaWatts (MW) to commence as early as June 2017.

Speaking on the resolutions made by the Ministers of Energy from Namibia and Angola, Kandjoze explains that both governments have finally endorsed the feasibility studies which will guide the construction of the hydroelectric power plant by as early as July next year.

“On the 10th November 2014 in Luanda, Angola a meeting took place where Ministers resolved to recommend to recommend to the Angolan and Namibian governments to endorse the outcome of the feasibility studies for the implementation of the Baynes Hydro Project and to commence with negotiations with the affected communities within the project area,” Kandjoze explains.

“Whilst acknowledging the delays in implementing some of the resolutions taken at the 10th November 2014 Ministers meeting, the ministers have directed the permanent joint technical commission to mobilise all the requisite resources during April – May 2016 to commence in June 2016 with the finalization of all outstanding studies as well as to compile, as a matter of urgency, a work plan to ensure the implementation and conclusion of all the remaining project activities within 12 months from date of commencement in June 2016,” the Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy stated.

In addition to instructing the PJTC to investigate the funding model of the Hydro-power project, Kandjoze alongside his Angolan counterpart, Joao Baptista Borges, reemphasised the strategic importance of the Baynes Hydro Power Project to both countries in tackling their power supply deficits.

In preparation for the project, the two governments had by 2013, already spent in excess of N$30 million dealing with the mitigating factors pertaining to its implementation such as the compensation for the loss of grazing land in both countries in the areas where the construction of the hydropower dam is projected.

This notwithstanding, Kandjoze also explained that the commission is yet to finalise reports on the number of people who will be affected by dam, those who will benefit from the water facet of the project for agricultural use as well as the costs associated with the project’s construction.

The Permanent Joint Technical Commission (PJTC) appointed the Cunene Consortium (CC) to perform a Techno-economic Feasibility Study (TEFS) on the Baynes Hydropower Project, and Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to independently conduct the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), in parallel and in close consultation with the techno-economic study.

Studies of the three site alternatives for water levels 580, 560 and 540 metres above medium sea level (mamsl) have been concluded, which means that for the maximum level of 580 mamsl, the dam level will only reach the foot of the Epupa Falls. The CC has also presented a positive outcome of the preliminary findings of Phase 3 of the Techno-Economic Feasibility Study, and deliberated on the Draft Bi-lateral Water Use Agreement on the Cunene River which deals with issues such as the establishment of a Bi-National River Authority, the establishment of the Baynes Hydropower Company, concessionary agreements between Angola and Namibia with the Baynes Hydropower Company for the development, operation and maintenance of the power station.

It is envisaged that the Baynes mid-merit/peaking power station’s capacity would be 600 MW which will be shared equally by Namibia and Angola. Like the Ruacana Power Station, the new dam will function as a mid-merit peaking station, so that NamPower can avoid buying imported power during peak hours. During the wet season the Baynes Power Station will run at full capacity, while during the dry season the generators will generate at maximum during mid-merit/peak periods only whilst 71 MW would be generated during the off-peak periods.