Estimated at around 12,500 MW, Mozambique’s hydropower potential is among the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 80 per cent of that potential is located in the Zambezi Valley, which includes the existing 2,075 MW Cahora Bassa project.
Mozambique boasts 13 major river basins, and there is the potential for both strategic grid expansions via large-scale projects, and smaller-scale developments servicing off-grid population centres.
Access to energy has been made a national priority in Mozambique’s development agenda, where it is viewed as a key driver for economic growth and poverty alleviation. In 2011, the Strategy for New and Renewable Energy Development (2011–25) was adopted. This policy aims to spur the sustainable development of Mozambique’s renewable energy resources, using both on-grid and off-grid applications. The electrification rate was 39 per cent in 2015; however, around 15 million people still lack access to electricity, especially in rural areas and in the north of the country.
The development of hydropower and other water management infrastructure in Mozambique will also be driven by the National Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy (NCCAMS), which includes a strategic action to “improve the capacity for integrated water resources management including building climate resilient hydraulic infrastructures”. This policy, highlighted in Mozambique’s INDC submission to the UNFCCC, also includes actions related to the protection of floodplains and water for agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
Mozambique is already a net exporter of electricity to the South African Development Community (SADC) countries via the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). Around 73 per cent of the electricity generated at the Cahora Bassa plant is exported to the SAPP, an important source of foreign revenue.
Exports are expected to increase significantly, especially to South Africa, which has identified Mozambique as a key strategic supplier of power; in one scenario, the South African government envisages an additional 2,135 MW in new hydropower capacity available to import from Mozambique.
Currently, six hydropower stations supply the national grid in Mozambique, namely the Cahora Bassa plant, operated by Hidroélectrica de Cahora Bassa, an independent power producer, and five plants operated by the privatised national utility, Electricidade de Moçambique: Mavuzi (52 MW), Chicamba (38.4 MW), Corumana (16.6 MW), Cuamba (1.9 MW) and Lichinga (0.73 MW).
Major projects in the pipeline include Mphanda Nkuwa (1,500 MW) and the north bank expansion of the Cahora Bassa plant (1,245 MW).
These projects are driving strategic grid expansion via the Regional Transmission Backbone Project (CESUL), a double transmission line which will connect the Tete province in central Mozambique to the capital Maputo, in the south, and to the SAPP.
Mozambique also has high potential for smaller-scale hydroelectric projects that can bring electricity to off-grid population centres via localised mini-grids. Policy support exists in the form of a renewable energy feed-in tariffs programme, which includes power purchase agreements for plants under 10 MW in capacity.
This country profile is featured in the 2016 Hydropower Status Report. You can download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in May 2016.