Millions of dollars earmarked for energy transition in Eswatini 

By Andrea Fitzpatrick, 12 December

TEA-LP partner and founding leader of the Energy Research Centre at the National University of Lesotho, Prof. Moeketsi Mpholo, represented TEA-LP at the 2nd EU Green Power Transformation Forum in Eswatini last month. The forum attracted over 150 energy stakeholders from the business sector, funding bodies, as well as government and regulatory institutions. The forum established a dialogue on renewable energy technologies and solutions in Eswatini. It also explored ways to unlock finance and enhance the development of local skills to drive the energy transition in Eswatini.

Prof. Moeketsi Mpholo at the EU Green Power Transformation Forum 2023. Source: Prof. Mpholo

Renewable Energy in Eswatini 

Eswatini currently relies on South Africa and Mozambique for 80 percent of its power supply, which puts them in a particularly vulnerable position given regular power shortages. As such, Eswatini has issued a Renewable Energy and Independent Power Producer Policy to attract investment and drive a shift to independent renewable energy. 

Prince Lonkokhela, the minister of Natural Resources and Energy, announced at the event that Eswatini is set to increase its electricity generation capacity by 241 megawatts as of July 2026 in an ambitious goal for universal, affordable, reliable and modern energy by 2030. As highlighted during the forum, this presents excellent opportunities to promote biomass, solar, and hydropower as part of the country’s energy mix.  

The Forum 

Prof. Mpholo’s takeaways from the forum include the significant funding that is being made available to support the energy transition in Eswatini. Several funding institutions, including GET.Invest and ElectriFi presented how to access their funding channels, and highlighted funds that are specifically earmarked for the region. Policy makers and regulatory bodies shared insights on how they are creating an enabling environment for the transition. Together, this paints an exciting picture for renewable energy in Eswatini.  

However, a few key challenges were also discussed, and cross-industry concern was raised around the lack of appropriate skills in the rapidly evolving energy sector. This pertained particularly to a lack of professional experts to check compliance and sign off on implemented projects; a lack of professional bodies in general; a gap between academia and industry with no socio-economic skills training; a lack of investment into training and education specifically; a lack of mentors in the sector and an increased trend for young professionals to move abroad coupled with a high reliance on foreign experts with a lack of on-site monitoring.  

Three key recommendations were made to overcome these challenges. The first being a skills masterplan where all energy stakeholders note skills needed and those available in their sectors; share projections on where their sectors plan to be and then from all this information decide on how to develop the necessary skills. The second suggestion was the formation of networks, as they offer many opportunities including lifelong learning; information on available opportunities and capacity building. Finally, the establishment of an accreditation programme and standards in the country for installers and developers with an accompanying database for those tested and certified for public access. 

Prof. Mpholo moderated a round table discussion on skills development for renewable energy projects, which was particularly pertinent given the noted skills gap. There was significant interest shown in the TEA-LP programmes and network. We are encouraged that TEA-LP representation can attend forums such as this and help facilitate energy transitions from the bottom up through knowledge sharing and networking. Unfortunately, there was no local representation of academia at the event. There is, however, a clear opportunity for local and regional universities to develop curricula that build skills and capacity in the fast-paced renewable energy sector. 

Prof. Mpholo went on to explain that there was also an Investment Academy running alongside the forum which ran a workshop aiding businesses with skills in writing business plans and funding proposals. Overall, there was great promise conveyed for change in Eswatini’s energy sector. The policy and regulatory institutes expressed how they are making the environment more conducive to the shift; government noted their intention; and there is ample funding waiting to be catalysed. Clear action within the sector on recommendations highlighted at the forum could really help lay the much-needed foundations to drive this transition. 

TEA-LP as a network of expertise 

Networks were highlighted as one of the key recommendations to overcome challenges in the energy transition, and skills gap noted as a key challenge. As a South-South network of energy expertise, TEA-LP addresses both points, and Prof. Mpholo’s presence as a partner and ambassador for the TEA-LP at the forum was an important step for our network, as it highlights the contributions of our platform to share information, exchange ideas and build resilience within Energy Access Education. Furthermore, as a key challenge noted was lack of appropriate skills across the value chain and a clear lack of tangible skills development, we are proud that TEA-LP can help build Southern knowledge and knowledge sharing and we hope to welcome more partners into the network in the future.