Do you think that loadshedding is messing up your life? Then try spending just two days in Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Guinea, Nigeria or Sierra Leone because such experience will definitely acquaint you with real loadshedding in an African country and may even make you appreciate the Botswana Power Corporation more.
According to the 2015/2016 edition of the Rand Merchant Bank’s “Where to Invest in Africa” report, electricity outages in Botswana average 10.3 hours a month. The situation is much worse in Congo Brazzaville (636.4 hours), Chad (147 hours), Guinea (198.5 hours), Nigeria (262.4 hours) and Sierra Leone (120.6 hours). Congo’s situation means that a whole month can go by without power supply. To an investor for whom electricity is an absolute essential who wants to set up in Southern Africa, Botswana will be eighth on the list, beating only Lesotho (12.7 hours), Malawi (23.5 hours) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (60.3 hours). The seven contenders ahead of Botswana would be Seychelles (0 hours), Namibia (0.7 hours), Mauritius (1.4 hours), South Africa (1.8 hours), Swaziland (2.7 hours), Mozambique (3.5 hours) and Madagascar (10.1 hours).
The power supply in Botswana partly accounts for the quality of the country’s infrastructure being placed in a category of ‘Top 5 Deteriorators’. The other four countries are Benin, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Like Botswana, the quality of overall infrastructure in these countries has declined badly over the past years. For investors this is bad news because poor infrastructure increases the cost of doing business.
“In many cases, we find that our clients are more concerned about the challenges of doing business than growth and market size, and therefore they place greater emphasis on the risks associated with the different operating environments Africa offers,” the RMB report says.
Botswana also comes out very badly in the latest Global Competitiveness Report where it placed 127th and scored 2.4. These figures were calculated on the basis of how respondents (Botswana businesspeople) answered the question: “In your country, how would you assess the reliability of the electricity supply (lack of interruptions and lack of voltage fluctuations)? On a scale where 1 represented “not reliable at all” and 7 “extremely reliable”, the country scored 2.4.