For the first time since intermittent power outages began, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, has briefed parliament about the national energy situation.
Kedikilwe said his delay to brief the nation was born by the fact that he wanted to get a true picture of the situation, by way of liaising with his counterparts in South Africa.
After meeting the relevant ministers in South Africa, Kedikilwe said there is no reason to panic as the SA power utility does not intend to switch off their supply to Botswana.
“It is not in their interest to cut off Botswana,” Kedikilwe told the media this week.
He said the economies of the two countries are so intertwined that cutting off Botswana would also weigh down on South Africa.
Kedikilwe urged the media to be sensitive in their reports about the power outages in both the country and region.
This, he said, was because there were many sensitive negotiations which could easily be derailed by the country’s sensational and inaccurate reporting.
He also warned against inaccurate reports saying they could be counter productive as to defeat the very interests the media wants to safe guard.
For the first time, the minister said since energy shortages began, government has been inundated with unsolicited bids from independent power supplies some wanting to capitalize on the country’s plight by way of charging as much as P24 million a month.
“We should be careful not to mortgage the country to such interests,” said the minister.
“I want to apologise to the nation for the anxiety and insecurity caused by the energy situation,” said Kedikilwe.
He specifically singled out the week of January 24 as particularly having been severe.
This he said was a result of many unrelated circumstances that conspired to drive the situation out of control.
In South Africa, energy demand for that week far surpassed the projected levels, while the pylons carrying power from Mozambique through Zimbabwe collapsed as a result of heavy rains.
These factors ended up driving supplies to Botswana and South Africa to lower levels as faced with low reserve margins the utility corporations had to resort to load shedding to avoid total collapse of the generators.
“It is unlikely this will happen again,” said the minister.
The Minister also said the multi billion Pula Mmamabula project was on track with negotiations between different parties ongoing.
He said a new plant is expected to be operational in Botswana some time next year.