Swaziland (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Total installed electricity capacity (2011, source: SEA): 60.4 MW
Hydropower: 100%

Total primary energy supply (2007, CEF): 1,703 ktoe
Combustible Renewables and Waste: 48%
Petroleum Products: 23%
Coal: 16%
Electricity Imports: 13%

Biomass, especially wood fuel, constitutes about 90% of the total final energy consumption, and is still dominant in cooking and heating in rural areas. Biomass is not only the major fuel in households, but also the major source of electricity self-generation in the sugar, pulp and saw mill industries.

SEC operates four hydropower stations; Maguga, Ezulwini, Edwaleni, and Maguduza, all serving as peaking and emergency power stations.These stations contribute 15-17% of the total energy consumed in the country. A further 2 x 4.5 mw diesel engines are installed at Edwaleni, however due to their high operational costs, they are no longer used.

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Swaziland imported an estimated 4,464 barrels of oil per day in 2009.

The country imported 80.7% of its electricity needs in 2007, largely from ESKOM in South Africa, but also from EDM in Mozambique, through its membership of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). Total imports from ESKOM were 841.5 GWh in 2007, with EDM supplying a further 93.7 GWh.

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Extend network

There is an inadequate electricity supply. The overall electrification rate is approximately 27%. It is estimated that 40% of urban areas and 4% of rural areas are electrified.

One 400 kV transmission line crosses through Swaziland, and connects to the network at the recently-completed Edwaleni II substation. Country-scale transmission occurs via a 132 kV grid, with 66 kV lines.

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Capacity concerns

Over the last ten years, an increasing population has placed a high burden on the country's indigenous woodlands and forests, and in certain areas, biomass resources have come under pressure. More and more woodland is being cleared for agricultural production and the grazing of cattle, while at the same time the demand for wood fuel is not decreasing. This has negatively impacted communities, as acquiring fuel wood has become a more laborious process, particularly affecting women and children, who are traditionally responsible for the collecting of fire wood. Increasing deforestation has also led to increased desertification and soil erosion.

Otherwise,  major concern surrounds to the potential tariff increases due to the countries dependency on imported energy from the South African Development Community (SADC) region and the imminent shortages of power . Security of supply, increasing rural electrification and reducing dependency on energy imports are the main challenges for the energy sector in Swaziland.

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Renewable energy

Solar Energy
Swaziland's solar regime is not well documented and it is necessary to collect sufficient and reliable data in order to map out the resource. However, indications from SADC maps, satellite images, and hourly sunshine data indicate that the annual averages could lie between 4 to 6 kWh/m2/day. A program to install solar water heaters in public institutions as an energy efficiency measure is also underway.

It is estimated that Swaziland has a gross theoretical hydropower potential of approximately 3800 GWh/year, with a potential installed capacity of 200 MW. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy established a database on the potential of developing mini-micro hydropower electricity schemes.  The target was to pin point sites around the country where appropriate river basins exist, which could be used to generate electricity and help quantify the cost of  establishing new electricity schemes.  A report was produced from the study and 35 sites were identified.  The capacity of the schemes identified ranged between 0.032MW to 1.525MW.

Biomass Energy
Total forestry cover in the country is estimated at 625,400 hectares, with 463,000 hectares of this being indigenous forest. The harvesting of indigenous wood fuels is not managed. Biofuels are also being considered for the country, with a proposed 10% mix of anhydrous ethanol in transport fuel. The Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation is to produce the ethanol. A public awareness campaign on the benefits of biofuels is also included in the considerations. In 2007, approximately 1.8 million tonnes of bagasse were produced from the country’s sugar industry, 80% of which was used for industrial process, heating and the remainder for electricity generation.

Wind Energy
Wind speed measurements are continuing in the country, with preliminary results indicating a mean average wind speed of 4 m/s across the country, suggesting a moderate potential for wind energy use. Wind pumps have previously been used and are deemed to hold the greatest potential. Micro wind turbines of less than 100 kW also hold potential. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy is working in close collaboration with the National Meteorological Service, to determine whether there is any realistic potential for effective utilisation of solar and wind energy in the country, including long-term measurements on the Lubombo Plateau and a movable monitoring station for other areas of the country.

Geothermal Energy
No study has yet been conducted into the geothermal potential of Swaziland, although hot springs are known to exist in the country.

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Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency potential exists in a number of sectors in the country, in both the supply and demand sides. Imported electricity in Swaziland predominantly comes from South Africa’s ESKOM, and emissions associated with these imports are extremely carbon-intensive. Distribution losses equated to 33 GWh in 2008.

The Swaziland Electricity Company is running an extensive demand-side management program, initiated in 2008. Compact fluorescent lighting is promoted under this program, and approximately 90% of electrified households are now using smart meter technology. In addition, to promote efficiency in the industrial sector, a time-of-use tariff has been introduced for industrial customers.

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Electricity Market
Swaziland’s power is supplied and distributed by the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC,, which was established by the Swaziland Electricity Company Act (2007).

Oil and Gas Market
Swaziland has no known oil or natural gas reserves, and no upstream oil industry. The country’s downstream industry is heavily dependent on fuel imports from South Africa. A number of private companies, including BP, Caltex, Galp Energia, and Engen are active in the oil product distribution sector in the country.

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The Swaziland Electricity Company currently owns a monopoly on the import, distribution and supply of electricity via the national power grid, as well as the majority of the country’s power stations. There are also five private power stations. Almost 25% of energy used in the Kingdom has been supplied by self-generators in recent years.

A reform of the energy sector was undertaken to reduce the monopoly of the utility, including the structural change from a board to a company in 2007. This established a regulatory body and preserved the state company as a more disciplined corporate entity. However, the introduction of new market-oriented structures into a system that has not previously supported them has been difficult.

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Energy framework

The legal energy policy and planning framework in Swaziland is controlled solely by the government via the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy. They support the position that investment in energy and industrial development in a sustainable manner can eradicate poverty in the country. The Ministry also takes the lead role in oil sector management.

The Government has stated clearly that rural electrification will continue to be a priority and efforts in that regard shall be led by the State. Energy is widely seen as a driver to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The main energy policy document is the National Energy Policy 2002, which is still in effect. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy is responsible for overall project planning under the policy, and co-ordinates with the National Development Strategy Unit to ensure the fullest benefit from its programs.

The Electricity Act of 1963 was replaced in 2007 by both the new Electricity Act and the Swaziland Electricity Company Act. This created a regulatory authority for the electricity sector and the structural reformation of the national utility. The Electricity Act created the framework for independent power providers to enter the electricity sector, with licensing provided by the new regulatory authority; however uptake has been limited.

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Energy debates

The 2007 energy reform has raised some concerns, and the potential ‘privatisation’ of the energy market in Swaziland has raised some opposition, especially regarding the position of foreign investors.

Feasibility studies are currently still being conducted as to the possibility of constructing a 1,000 – 2,000 MW coal-fired power plant. Swaziland has considerable proven coal reserves of 207.6 million tonnes. The Swaziland Electricity Company is keen to exploit this reserve to improve energy security and enable the creation of an export market for electricity.

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Energy studies

As with most Southern African countries, international donors and/or funders (World Bank, United Nations Agencies, and individual countries) have an essential role in infrastructural development and enabling other forms of assistance related to the energy sector, such as research and feasibility studies. As a member of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP, Swaziland is involved in regional planning in the energy sector and is committed to furthering regional integration to improve access to electricity services for all members.

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Role of government

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy (MNRE) is the national energy authority. The Renewable Energy Unit is the division in the Ministry which overseas the activities of the Renewable Energy Association of Swaziland, whilst managing and promoting the development and use of sustainable energy.

The Energy Policy Advisory Committee is responsible for advising the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy (MNRE) in decisions taken in connection with policy formulation.

The Energy Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Energy is the custodian of policy and operational activities pertaining to the energy sector. Its mission is to effectively manage the national energy resources and to work towards affordable and sustainable energy provision for all the people in the country, whilst ensuring the international competitiveness of the energy sector.

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Government agencies

Other government departments involved in energy policy development functions include:

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Energy procedure

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy (MNRE) is responsible for overall policy planning. The Ministry’s main policy document is the National Energy Policy 2002. They completed a comprehensive implementation strategy for the National Energy Policy, with the assistance of the European Union (EU), under the European Union Energy Initiative (EUEI) on Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development, in partnership with European Union Partnership Dialogue Facility (EU PDF). This National Energy Policy Implementation Strategy (NEPIS) project commenced in July 2007 and was completed in October 2009. The policy recommends programs for liberalising the energy markets and the expansion of access to energy services for the poor. In essence, the policy acknowledges that addressing poverty alleviation for sustainable energy means finding technological and institutional innovations that can lower the costs of obtaining and using energy services.

The National Development Strategy Unit (NDS) is the main overall planning department. The NDS consolidates all programmes aimed at achieving the National Vision.

The MNRE has formulated a strategic framework and action plan with regards to renewable energy development in the country. The main development points are to:

  • Develop a renewable energy information programme that will establish and maintain an appropriate renewable energy information system,
  • Establish a centre for demonstration and education on renewable energy and sustainable energy.
  • Encourage and enhance topics on renewable energy and energy in general in educational and training curricula.
  • Maximise the use of renewable energy technologies wherever they are viable.
  • Promote greater understanding and awareness of renewable energy resources and the associated technologies.
  • Develop and maintain accurate renewable energy resource data and make it available to all, so as to make informed policy decisions regarding sustainable energy use and supply.
  • Develop woodlots in areas where there is an acute fuel wood shortage.

The Government is engaging in a pre-electrification program with solar home systems (SHS), in collaboration with the Swaziland Electricity Company. It will involve the evaluation of private sector participation and identify possible areas for co-operation in the marketing and distribution of SHS. The SEC will evaluate the technical, financial and operational feasibility of offering solar home systems in lieu of the main electrical connections, as well as enlightening the public on how the two technologies complement each other.

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Energy regulator

The Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority (SERA, was established by the Energy Regulatory Authority Act of 2007. The Act establishes the Authority as an independent corporate body, with the power to sue and be sued in its own name.

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Degree of independence

The regulatory body is qualified as independent. The Chairman, Deputy Chairman and CEO of the Board of the Authority are appointed by the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy. The Board consists of no less than three and no more than five members, one of whom must represent the Ministry of Finance. Funding for the Authority, as of 2009, was derived solely from the Government.

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Regulatory framework

On the 1st of March 2007, the Electricity Act of 1963 was repealed, as a result of the promulgation of the Electricity Act of 2007 and the Swaziland Electricity Company Act of 2007.

The Electricity Act of 2007 provides for the regulation of the Electricity Supply Industry in Swaziland. It gives provisions for the regulation of generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity in Swaziland.

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Regulatory roles

The following powers and functions have been given to the Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority (SERA):

  • Receive and process applications for licenses, and modify/vary licenses.
  • Approve tariffs, prices, charges and terms and conditions of operating a license.
  • Monitor the performance and the efficiency of licensed operators.

SERA is also charged with setting standards for the quality of supply and service, as well as encouraging the development of an industry-wide set of standards and operating codes of conduct.

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Energy regulation role

The Ministry of Finance, the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA), the Fuel Pricing Committee and the Renewable Energy Association of Swaziland (REAWSA) also play important roles in the regulatory process.

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Regulatory barriers

The main identified barriers (regulatory and others) include:

  • Difficulty of mobilising funding for investment, which can lead to severe delays in project implementation.
  • The small size of the local energy market.
  • Limited natural resources.
  • Diminishing power capacity in the Southern African region.

Swaziland imports the bulk of its commercial energy from neighbouring countries. The high costs of renewable energy technologies, and the fact that investment flows are still insufficient, are major barriers to project implementation.

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SERA (2011) Electricity Sector. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Swaziland Electricity Company (2012) How we Generate Electricity. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

CEF (2009) Renewable Energy in Swaziland PowerPoint Presentation. Downloadable at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Index Mundi (2011) Swaziland Oil – Imports. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Global Energy Network Institute (2007) The SEB Transmission System after the 400kV Integration Project. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Mazibuko, P. M. and Mwendera, E.J. (2006) An Assesment of the Impacts of Hot Spring Usage on Water Quality in Swaziland BSCW-UNESCO. Available at [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Restructuring and Diversification Management Unit, Swaziland (2009) Grid Emission Factor Assessment. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

U.S Energy Information Administration (2009) Electricity Distribution Losses – Swaziland. Available at:,&syid=2005&eyid=2009&unit=BKWH [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Swaziland Electricity Company (2012) Demand Side Management. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Galp Energia (2011) Swaziland. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

MBendi (2012) Oil and Gas in Swaziland – Overview. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Institute of Developing Economies- Japan External Trade Organisation (2011) Swaziland Electricity Company. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Engineering News (2006) Swaziland ponders new coal-fired power plant. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, Swaziland (2012) Renewable Energy. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy (2012) Department of Energy. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Graduate School of Business, Cape Town (2010) Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority (SERA) presentation. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013]

Swaziland Electricity Company (2012) Key Electricity Sector Legislation. Available at: [Accessed 4th September 2013] Close References