Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Botswana’s P500 million credit line to Zimbabwe backfires

Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila on Monday told parliament that Botswana had hoped its 500 million credit line to Zimbabwe would partly be used to implement a pilot project to operate a coal powered Bulawayo Power Station with the hope of receiving 50% share of estimated 60 MW station output.

The minister said that as fate would have it the project did not materialize.

“We cannot impose our will on a sovereign State. Despite our proposal that that part of the 500million Government of Botswana credit line that was put in place at the time was to be made available the project was unable to get off the ground,” he said.

Mokaila accused Gaborone Central legislator Dumelang Saleshando of trying to score cheap political mileage out of Botswana’s power crisis.

“At this juncture our energy and focus should be on resolving the current power crisis rather than engaging in meaningless witch hunt informed by political expediency,” the minister lashed out.

Mokaila said that contrary to Saleshando’s claims government has developed 90MW plant at Orapa as a dual fuel plant at a cost of 1 billion.

Briefing the house on the Morupule B plant status Mokaila said that unit 1 of the project is currently running but will be taken out of service for broiler modification. He however could not state with precision when the modification process will be completed.

He said that once the other three units are brought back into service and at an appropriate time, only then will unit one start running again.

Commenting on unit 2 the minister said that it will be ready for use next month.

“This is the only Unit of the four units which has not yet been taken over by BPC. The broiler has been modified as per the recommendations of the designers and is expected to be brought in service by the end of April,” he said.

The minister also announced that the broiler modifications for unit 3 have been completed and the unit will be running by end of this month. With regards to unit 4 the minister is not optimistic.

“The unit was shut down on 6th March 2014 on account of broiler leaks.”

The broiler will be modified and the timeline of its being brought back to service are still being evaluated,
Botswana faces an unprecedented power crisis and a possible collapse or strain on the economy as the Morupule B project struggles to take off.

The situation is worsened by the fact that Botswana’s main supplier of power South Africa has also been hit by power shortage and there are fears South Africa could cancel its power supply deals with Botswana to cater for its demands back home.

Mokaila complained that the opposition was giving the country and the business community a wrong picture about developments at Morupule B.

“…My ministry is also reviewing various options, in terms of procuring power, from neighbouring countries to ensure we have belts and braces for the firming up of the country’s electricity supplies,” Mokaila told parliament.

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