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Victor Moita, Regional Director Direccao Provincial De Energias E Aguas De Benguela

Interview - November 24, 2011
Direccao Provincial De Energias E Aguas De Benguela´s objective is to provide drinkable water to all of the inhabitants of the region

To start the interview we would like to know your comments on the current moment Angola is experiencing after the 2002 Peace Treaty: all the successes it has achieved.
What do you think was the key in terms of the success Angola is now benefiting from and what is your vision for the future?

The Government has done many investments not only in Benguela but in all of Angola. The program of “AGUA PARA TODOS” is of a national character and Benguela was one of the first provinces to implement it and serve as an example for the rest of provinces. The program “AGUA PARA TODOS” not only reaches Benguela but Lobito and Baia Farta too; the objective of the plan is to get drinkable water to all of the inhabitants of the region (Benguela has a population of 1 million people). There are more than 200 towns in the region where “AGUA PARA TODOS” is going to be established as well as 46 small water systems and we are also looking at the possibility of solar energy, where we know Germany is very important.

A very big effort is being made to take water to 1662 small villages where 423 of them have around 500 inhabitants.

The central Government, in addition to the local and provincial governments must help to invest in the water systems of the region in order to make up for the deficits there are currently. Nevertheless in the past only 5-10% of the people in Benguela had water where nowadays more than 50% of the people enjoy these items.

The big problem with Benguela is that people live in far away zones which only makes it even more difficult to get the water and energy supplies there but we are doing the best in order to reach 100% of the population.

Could you tell us what have been the most important challenges you have faced when encountering these big ambitions you want to achieve?

One of the most important issues for us is the financing of the infrastructures but throughout the process of national reconciliation it was achieved. The Central Government made it a priority to get water and energy along not only for the region but the country. The first thing to do was to detect and remove the land mines around the country that because of the war had been placed around Angola. Along with this policy we had to work very closely with the communities in order to tackle the problems of distance from big towns. There were many big challenges. The war had left the region in very bad conditions and everything; every piece of infrastructure had to be built from scratch.

We had help from local NGO´s and from foreign investors in order to develop the infrastructures as well as helping and promoting the local businessmen to aid us in building these systems through their private financing as well.
We have many challenges to try to take both water and energy to every town in our province, we want to take quantity and quality water as well. We have to improve and invest in the machinery and systems as they are very old: there are 46 tanks that we need to reconstruct. Not only constructing but providing assistance to the systems is vital within our sector.

Empresa de Aguas de Benguela and Lobito are working together in the interior of the province to help maintain this situation and construct even more.

More specifically in relation to energy we are very proud to say that we already use solar panels but have to extend their use because we depend on generators which use very large amounts of diesel and are very expensive to maintain.
Benguela and Lobito have to work together and help each other in order to improve the situation and invest together in technology as our methods are very old.
We are already using German equipment in water pumps, the analysis of the water and the portable labs to detect water and oil leaks.
But most importantly, the biggest challenge is the management of this big region with all the topographical and geographical difficulties it has.

We would like to know about what policies are being implemented in relation to energy?

We are currently constructing private hydroelectric dams and in order to do so we have to construct high voltage electrical cables in order to transport the amounts of energy needed. Next year this dam will be working.
The problem we have in Benguela is that there is a big deficit in energy supplies because all of the big efforts have been taken in the area of water: nowadays we have a supply of electricity to 40% of the region as the interior of the province receives its energy due to the diesel generators.

In the energy sector we also have German equipment, the hydro systems from the post Second World War period for instance but we also need investments there too. At that point in time it was already the Germans the ones bringing the best technology to the region. We want to keep counting upon German investment in the creation of clean energy.
The Government of Angola wants to construct a big dam in Cacongo using 300 MW of energy to provide this amount of electricity; this will provide energy to the Port of Lobito, the oil refinery and the railway transportation of Benguela. Nowadays we have a power of 70MWs.

The modernization and rehabilitation of the dam of Biope is going on as well as we want to increase the power of the sub-stations, they are at its limits as they were constructed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The consumption is very high so we have to substitute these low voltage cables for the new high voltage ones (the old have more than 70 years!).

We have to add the problem of air conditioning systems which are used everywhere and before were not a big issue but now as their consumption of electricity is very high; this has to be considered as well.
We need then to invest in hydroelectric systems, sub-stations and the water and energy management for the creation of electrical energy.

What is the working relation of the province of Benguela and the Central Government in Luanda in relation to the energy and water systems?

In relation to the water programs we have some important projects designed by the Ministry of Energy: the program “AGUA PARA TODOS” and “AGUAS DE BENGUELA” where the Government has influence as well. There are more than 15 projects underway to develop the water sector in Benguela.
In relation to energy: the dam of Biope is managed by the Government along with ENE (EMPRESA NACIONAL DE ELECTRICIDAD); the project of the line in Gabela-Benguela and the line Luna 1 are managed by the Secretary of State for Energy and the Project of Benguela Sul is part of the Central Government’s area of decision.
At the local level: the small villages do not have energy and so 23 electrical generators have to be established in order to help all our people to enjoy the benefit of electricity. We have constructed 12 generators for the technical staff who are working in these areas, for their housing and working environments but this situation is not sustainable.
There is a big project to reconstruct 9 hydroelectric systems.

Where would you like to see the Provincial Directorship of energy and water in Benguela in ten years’ time?

The most important thing we want to achieve is a very big and competitive water and energy private sector. We want Benguela forte to be a sustainable region in relation to the energy sector.
We need to provide for the important needs of energy and water for the industrial parks and for Catumbela and the dam of Biope.
The basic drainage has to be done very strongly and with a great effort. The substantial advance that has been made in the sector has been through the help of the Governor of Benguela, Mr. Armando Cruz Neto, and we both have the ambition of providing energy and water to 100% of the population.
Nowadays only 60% of the energy is provided in the areas of the coast and we need to stress our efforts in that direction as we know that the result of these improvements will directly affect the living standards of all our people.
The program “ENERGIA PARA TODOS” is being launched as well and we need to stress its importance but for the time being is only at its first phases of development: a bio mass power station is being developed in Benguela and Huambo. The international community should know that they will be received with open arms and their investments will have very high returns.

What message would you like to send to the investment Community in Germany?

The German business community has to believe in Benguela and its possibilities. There are many areas to be improved in the agricultural, water and energy sectors that need to be developed. Very important too is that the people from Benguela are very nice and welcoming and they will make you feel at home from day one.
The history of Benguela and Germany goes back to the 1940’s and so it is only logical to keep it today. We do not want more people between Benguela and Germany as this only makes the products and systems more expensive and so the working relation has to be established without other people getting involved.
Germany is leader in science and in technology and the investment in Benguela is going to ensure that their return on investment is higher.
In relation to the professional capacity building we need to say that many people in Benguela went to University in Eastern Germany and so the relation is very strong with this area.