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UPDATE - Lesotho power program includes 1,000-MW pumped-storage

The government of Lesotho plans to recruit suppliers and consultants for an electricity supply program focusing on renewable energy including mini-hydropower projects, as well as study of a 1,000-MW pumped-storage project.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a loan and a grant for the program February 4 totaling 11 million Units of Account (US$16.4 million). (HNN 2/6/09) The funding is to support investment in electricity supply infrastructure to enhance electricity access, ensure improved efficiency, and reduce shortages in the small African nation.

Electricity production shortages are to be alleviated by exploiting renewable energy sources such as mini-hydropower, and energy conservation and demand management. The program envisages restoration of a 2-MW mini-hydro project to help make up for shortages by 17 MW, which the bank called significant for Lesotho.

The program also is to include technical assistance for a pre-feasibility study of a 1,000-MW pumped-storage project and a 132-kilovolt transmission system. Project, engineering, supervision, and management consulting services, and environmental mitigation services also will be recruited.

The low electricity access rate will be addressed by expansion of the transmission and distribution systems in Maseru, Hlotse, Mphaki, and Mantsonyane.

The AfDB loan accounts for 72.48 percent of the program cost, with the government and Lesotho Electricity Corp. paying the remainder. The program is to be completed over 42 months from the date of January's loan approval.

Nearly all Lesotho's locally produced electricity comes from 70-MW Muela Dam, commissioned in 1998 as part of Phase 1 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Since power-strapped South Africa has been rationing power it supplies to Lesotho, its smaller neighbor has been seeking ways to boost generation at Muela and to generate hydro at other sites. (HNN 11/20/08)

In December, South Africa's Cabinet agreed to invest 7.3 billion rand (US$712.6 million) for Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), a giant water supply scheme that will also boost hydropower generation by Lesotho. (HNN 12/5/08)

Lesotho plans to procure goods and services under African Development Bank guidelines. Prospective bidders are invited to contact the address below for additional information.

For information, contact Lesotho Electricity Supply Co. (Pty) Ltd., P.O. Box 423, Maseru 0100 Lesotho; (266) 2231-2236; Fax: (266) 2231-0544.

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