Hunger For Power - Mozambique's Energy Revolution

Tim Haïdar

After 15 years of Civil War that claimed up to 1 million lives, Mozambique is back on track and set to cash in on the plethora of natural resources that underpin the East African nation.

With almost 24 million inhabitants, a population growth rate of 2.4 per cent and average annual economic growth of 8.5per cent over the past decade, Mozambique is one of Africa’s up and coming nations – and an energy hungry one.

Most of the limited infrastructure that existed in the Portuguese colonial period was all but destroyed in the civil war, providing massive challenges for the industry in terms of resource transportation and electrical transmission.

Mozambique's current generating capacity stands at around 2,200 MW, with 89 per cent of that total supplied directly by the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi River.

The majority of that electricity is exported to South Africa to the south, leaving 82 per cent of native Mozambicans without access to electricity.

Hunger For Power

There are several major power and infrastructure projects on the table in a resurgent Mozambique, the most ambitious of which is the Cahora Bassa Dam to Maputo transmission line, linking Zambezia province to the capital in the eponymous Maputo province.

Remarkably, there is no direct line to currently link the dam with Maputo, and the capital is powered by a transmission network that runs first into South Africa and then back to Mozambique.

The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, Norway and the French Development Agency in league with Mozambican utility Electricidad de Mocambique (EDM) will spend $2.1bn on the transmission project, beginning in 2014 and slated for completion in 2017.

This will be the biggest undertaking in Mozambique’s history since the country’s independence from Portugal in 1975, involving the construction of 3,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines and intermittent substations for the transport of 3,100 megawatts of electricity from the Cahora Bassa hydro plant.

Hydro upgrades and new projects

Harnessing the power of the mighty Zambezi is top of the list for EDM with several prospective hydroelectric projects due to feed into the grid between 2018 and 2020.

At a cost of $800 million, the Cahora Bassa North facility will add 1,245 MW to the production already generated in the immediate Cahora Bassa region of Tete province, and the $3 billion Mphanda Nkuwa plant 60 milometres further downstream that will add an additional 1,500 MW to the Zambezi hydro complex.

Smaller-scale hydroelectric projects along the Zambezi will add a further 1,067 MW to the burgeoning Mozambican grid. These projects include plants at Lupata (600MW), Boroma (200MW), Lurio (120MW), Mavuzi 2 and 3 (60MW), Alto Malema (60MW), and Massingir (27MW).


On the back of natural gas finds by American independent Anadarko and Italian energy giant ENI, Mozambique ranks fourth in the world for natural gas reserves, only behind Russia, Iran and Qatar.

As native Mozambican gas comes online, a host of new gas-to-power projects will be rolled out between 2013 to 2014, adding around 300MW to the grid. These are set to include the 140MW Sasol-EDM joint venture in Ressano Garcia, located close to the South African border project, Gigawatt Mozambique’s $230 million 100MW plant and the small-scale Enventure/Kuvaninga de Mozambigue project for a 40MW gas-fired plant based on a 15 year Build–Own–Operate–Transfer (BOOT) model.