Botswana Power Corporation and EDF (Electricity of France) have signed a Shareholders and Share Purchase Agreement on how their joint subsidiary, BPC Lesedi, should be operated.
The agreement has enabled EDF to buy 45 percent of the shares of BPC Lesedi with BPC Lesedi being the majority shareholder with 55 percent.
BPC Lesedi Rural Energy Services Company was established in May 2008 by BPC under the RE-Botswana project to offer solar photovoltaic systems and efficient cooking options as a complement to grid services.
Speaking at a signing ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer BPC, Nkagisang Raleru revealed that the objective of this program in terms of rural electrification is to connect around 2,000 customers by the end of 2011 and to reach from 50,000 to 70,000 households within 10 years.
“EDF brings a combination of its technical knowledge, its experience in the domain of customer management and its credibility as an investor, which enables it to attract international lenders,” he said. Raleru revealed that BPC Lesedi intends to operate as a business format franchise for its core services.
“This will facilitate efficient replication and regulation, enhance involvement of the private sector, and ensure that rural-based services are available in the long run,” he said.
He added that Franchisees will be local independently owned businesses and will be required to be profit making.
“BPC Lesedi will set competitive commercial goals for franchisees and any operating excesses will be used to fund growth and will not be used to pay dividend to shareholders,” he said.
Director, Decentralised Solutions Division, Eduardo Dahome, told Sunday Standard “the signature of this agreement really triggers the beginning of the operations and kicks-off the generalisation of the program to the whole country”.
He added that EDF feels honoured to have been chosen by BPC to be their partner
To show their commitment to the project, EDF will bring US $2 million into the project by way of equity injection and a loan to BPC Lesedi. EDF will further participate actively in the operational life of the company through Tanguy Boussard, an expert in these projects who will be supported by a dedicated team in France that has a similar experience in various countries in Africa to ensure knowledge and technology transfer to Batswana.
“Raleru revealed that as training remains one of the major concerns in Botswana, EDF will propose a plan of active participation in the training program for BPC Lesedi’s personnel as well as for franchisees and the subcontractors that will be in charge of the installation of the PV systems.
The Minister of Energy and Water Affairs, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, commended the marriage of BPC to EDF, saying that this was “a first in rural electrification in Africa, if not possibly among the very first few in the world”.
He applauded the Government of France for having allowed this partnership to happen and EDF for having chosen BPC to do business with.