Friday, December 3, 2021

Botswana turns down electricity offer from Namibia for fear of annoying SA

The Botswana Power Corporation would have been saved the grave power outages of the last two weeks had Botswana accepted an offer of emergency supply from Namibia.

Information relayed to Sunday Standard indicates that the Botswana Government chose to spurn the Namibian offer for fear of annoying and antagonizing the South African power authority who are by far the region’s most powerful supplier and energy mainstay.

Botswana has for the last two weeks been experiencing intermittent power supplies.

This has caused major disruptions in both businesses and households.

Botswana currently imports 90 percent of her energy from South Africa, but the supply has been badly disrupted over the last two weeks due to factors happening in Botswana and South Africa.
In South Africa, Eskom had to reduce their supplies to Botswana as a result of planned maintenance work ahead of winter.

In Botswana, a fuel powered generator connected to the national grid in Orapa also operated below par as a result of maintenance.

There are allegations that wrong fuel had been used, leading to a breakdown of some key components of the generator.

The old Morupule plant, which produces the greatest amount of locally generated electricity, has also been running far below capacity owing to ongoing maintenance works.

The recent heat waves have also meant that all the generation currently available had to be reduced to allow sufficient cooling of the plants.

With South Africa unable to meet its contractual obligations, the Namibians had offered Botswana to chip in as a stop gap, but a fear of long-term ramifications arising from the diplomatic fallout led to Botswana turning down the offer.

South African power generation is by far the single largest component of the Southern African Power Pool, a basket arrangement through which SADC countries pull together to meet their energy needs.
A BPC spokesperson, Spencer Moreri, could only say South Africa was living up to its obligations.
He referred questions on the offer from Namibia to the Ministry of Energy Resources and Water Affairs.

“Orapa and Morupule ‘A’ are running below capacity. South African imports are constrained because of ongoing repairs in South Africa,” said Moreri.

He said following the heat wave, demands have been high across the board.

“We acknowledge that this is a national problem. The good thing is that Botswana Government has been making interventions to assist BPC,” he said.

Moreri said supply is likely to stabilise in a week’s time, but added that disruptions will continue, albeit at a reduced scale.

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