Saturday, September 26, 2020

BPC should come clean on possible power crisis

Public information shows that Botswana imports close to 70 percent of her electricity supply.
The true figure could actually be much higher.
In one way or another, almost all of that import supply originates from the South African power utility, Eskom.

As a result, Botswana Power Corporation is more of a go between or distributor than anything else ? put more precisely, a kind of an agent of some sort for Eskom.

It is possible that over the years it was economic to import electricity rather than generate our own, especially because Eskom has always had a surplus supply.

But the very agreements under which the Botswana Power Corporation imports from Eskom, and Eskom exports to Botswana Power Corporation make it explicitly clear that cross border transactions will only continue provided domestic demand in South Africa has been satisfactorily met.

Over the recent years, it became clear that for the whole Southern African Power Pool, demand for electricity was growing at a rate that far outstripped supply.

Eskom, which is effectively BPC?s breadbasket, is currently having its own troubles at home.

Classified information from that country signals that Eskom could be up to huge problems as a result of ageing power stations.
Some time last year, South Africa started experiencing regular outages.

Although Eskom denied the outages were a result of poor planning and low supply, the truth has since come to the fore that Eskom is no longer able to meet the SA domestic power demand.

The truth of the matter is that during the apartheid years, electricity supply was mainly confined to the white ruling establishment.

Since the collapse of apartheid (an evil and racist kind of government that excluded and divided people based on the colour of their skin) a majority of South Africans who are, by the way, black have joined the subscriber base.

As a result, demand has skyrocketed, and Eskom?s shortcomings were exposed.

South African businesses, especially in major cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, have been complaining about the power outages, but still the disruptions have persisted.

In fact not only has the outages persisted, they have become very severe and frequent so much so that they are not only disrupting the daily running of businesses but also negatively impacting on the bottom lines of enterprises.

The situation is so serious that many businesses have already opted for contingency measures like buying standby generators.

The fact of the matter is that for some time up until the problem in South Africa got out of control, Eskom hid the extent of the problem.

This denied businesses to prepare for the impending crisis.

We are using the example of the extent of SA?s problems, again to illustrate what big problems could be coming our way.

The Botswana Power Corporation should not behave like Eskom by hiding pertinent information from the public on the extent of the looming crisis.
Save for vague and general pronouncement that they are prepared for any eventuality, BPC has not been candid enough in coming forward with information.

We implore BPC to be more candid and forthright with information on possible outages that could be coming Botswana way.

That will help businesses here to better prepare themselves.

More than that, we hope that time has come now to expedite the construction of new power facilities as well as upgrading the old ones. In light of the ongoing pressure on power demand in South Africa, it is important that a senior person in government, like the Vice president, directly supervise these projects.

God knows what would happen if Eskom is not able to sell BPC 70 percent of Botswana?s energy needs because the SA utility are grappling with more pressing and urgent demands in that home ground.

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