The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), the monopolistic power supplier, embarked on desperate attempts Friday aimed at assuaging customers’ confidence as it tries to recoil to power outages that have sent the country to the dark ages.
Top official from the corporation told reporters that they have standing “supply agreement” with EskomÔÇöthe South African power suppliersÔÇö for the next five years but they did not rule out the possibility of reduced supply if the need becomes critical in that country.
Currently, Morupule power station, which is being expanded, covers 25 percent of the national demand while the rest is being imported from Namibia, Mozambique with South Africa being the largest supplier.
Last week, the southern African countries: Botswana, DRC, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe were in a state of intermitted power cuts that chocked the economies.
Edward Rugoyi, BPC’s director of transmission said myriads of actions are being taken to address the disparate situation including acceleration of the expansion of Morupule project which at its completion by 2010 is expected to inject some 120 mw of power.
He admitted that the they have long known about the potential power crisis but took long to address it. Currently, Botswana and other southern African states are aggressively looking for solutions which include the expansion of Morupule power station
“We have five-year supply agreement of 350 mw that started in January this year,” Rugoyi said, adding that “Kabora Basa’s one year renewable contract also came into effect by January 7.”
However, he indicated that the supply from South Africa is expected to be reduced over the years but added that the national demand for electricity is growing at an alarming rate of 5.6 percent per annum.
BCP’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Jacob Raleru, said they have put up some long term plans to deal with the situation but the biggest problem is that they are looking for a private investor willing to burn his money on initiatives aimed at bringing light to the country.
Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa collectively own a Botswana registered company called Western Corridor which is charged with the development of Inga project. The project is expected to cost the quartet close to US $ 40 billion but as late as last year chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Jay Naidoo, told the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town that they had only managed to raise US $600 million towards the project.
Raleru also warned that they are going to punish customers through the raising of tariffs so that they can get the much needed cash for the development of consistent and reliable power supply.
“Whatever new investment we make it has to translate into a hike in administrative prices,” he said.
Further, he stated that the Mmamabula project is also expected to inject some confidence when it comes on board after 2011. He said the resource is huge enough to meet the demands of the country and even to export to other countries.
“We are looking at a situation whereby instead of being importer of electricity we now become exporters,” he added.