The World Bank’s lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), has approved a grant of $150 million for Mozambique’s energy sector, APA reported on Friday.

The grant “will help Mozambique’s electricity utility company EDM improve the operational capacity of its electricity network, as well as its operational efficiencies”, a World Bank statement said.

Mozambique has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa, with the majority of the population still not linked to the national grid. The southern African nation “made significant strides in expanding access to electricity in recent years, which now reaches 26 percent of the country, up from 6 percent in 2006,” according to the World Bank.

However, despite these improvements, “EDM faces increasing issues of efficiency and reliability of its electricity. The total system losses were estimated at 26 percent in 2016, higher than the weighted average for Sub-Saharan Africa”.

The World Bank country director for Mozambique, Mark Lundell, said he was pleased with the approval of the grant “especially in these times of much need public investment in this crucial sector”.

Lundell added that the bulk of the of the grant, $117 million, is intended, to assist the rehabilitation and upgrading of network infrastructure to improve security and reliability of electricity supply through the reinforcement of transmission and distribution lines, installation of additional transformers to increase capacity, and reactive compensation equipment in the cities of Maputo, Matola, Nacala, Pemba, and Lichinga.

“The rest of the money will be used to support EDM’s operational and commercial operations, the company’s capacity building and implementation support, as well as capacity building for the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Lundell continued.

Government officials in Mozambique say electricity supply will stay limited until the end of the decade with demand rising rapidly, and as new big hydro projects face delays.

At the moment, Mozambique’s major dam operator, Hydro-electric Cahora Bassa (HCB), is negotiating with the government to build a new power station that could increase power supplies to the country’s neighbours. Mozambique’s current generating capacity is around 2,200 MW, mainly supplied by the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam. Most of that power is exported to neighbouring South Africa, while only 18 percent of Mozambicans have access to electricity.

Proposed projects include a 1,245 MW plant in the northern part of the Zambezi River where Cahora Bassa is also based, and the 1,500 MW Mphanda Nkuwa plant further downstream.

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