Incoming Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairperson, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa proposed the establishment of a regional body to develop a strategy to facilitate the exploitation of the vast natural gas resources in the region. Zuma proposed this during the 37th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa.
The proposal comes as the government of Zimbabwe secured a $60 million financial package for Lupane’s coal-bed methane gas concessions awarded to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
“The committee will be charged with ensuring the inclusion and promotion of natural gas into the regional energy mix and facilitate an increase in universal access to energy as well as industrial development in SADC” said Zuma.
According to the SADC Energy Monitor, the contribution of gas to the regional energy mix is very minimal, accounting for a mere 1.3 percent of the total power generation mix.
In a paper prepared by a local geologist, Norman Mukwakwami in 2013, findings showed Zimbabwe’s gas reserves are actually more than those of all other countries in the region combined according to the Zimbabwe Independence. Lupane and Hwange areas were estimated to have 800 million cubic meters per square kilometer of gas in 2015.
This implies that Zimbabwe can have a chance to learn more about gas exploitation if the proposed regional body is to be established.
The establishment of such a body will also help the country to in exporting other gas products, boost the Zimbabwean industry and create employment as analysts say the Lupane coal-bed methane if exploited could turn the country from being a net fertilizer importer to a net exporter. This, therefore, means that the body is a good initiative for Zimbabwe.