Production data provided by the government statistics agency ÔÇô Statistics Botswana (SB) has shown that the value added by the Water and Electricity sector at constant 2006 prices for the second quarter of 2016 (Q2; 2016) has slightly recorded an improvement.
The data, released mid last week shows that the value of the utility sector was P139.6 million compared to P97.3 million registered in the first quarter of 2016 (Q1;2016).
However the data shows that Electricity continued to record negative value, but with some slight improvement. In Q2:2016, Electricity recorded a negative value added of P74.4 million compared to a negative value added of P192.9 million registered in the second quarter of 2015 (Q2;2015).
According to the acting Statistician General Dabilani Buthali, the decrease in the Electricity real value added is due to a decline in local electricity production by 20.0 percent and an increase of 24.6 percent in electricity imports.
“The decrease in local Electricity production was largely driven by plant failure at the coal operated Morupule B Power Station. At the end of the quarter under review, only two units were in operation at the power plant while the other two were undergoing remedial works,” Buthali noted in a commentary accompanying the production data.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) said last year while it seeks to engage in a long term strategy that will culminate in a complete redesign of the four units of the Palapye based power plant, it will implement interim measures meant to minimise risk of ‘failure’ of the plant’s boilers.
By June 2015, the Corporation was expected to kick start the interim measure exercise with unit three, followed by the other three units in due course. The Morupule B power plant consists of four units all capable of producing 150 MW individually and 600 MW collectively. However, the Corporation has previously admitted that only two units are operational though they are not producing power at full capacity.
The long awaited coal fired power station, which was meant to resolve Botswana’s power woes and set BPC as the ultimate power producer in the region, continues to falter as a result of problems associated with the boiler system. Except for the past several months of 2016, this has plunged the country into a crippling power deficit that has slowed economic growth over the last four years.
Meanwhile the Water sector also showed some improvement in the first and second quarters of 2016. In the second quarter, it registered an increase of 40.6 percent compared to an increase of 23.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
This comes after the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) introduced dual billing system in which now consumers are charged for both portable water and waste water. The changes were effective January 2016.
Botswana embarked on a water sector reform project 2008 ÔÇô 2013 that resulted in the country’s water supply and sanitation services being transferred from local government and Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) entailing over 540 villages and settlements. However due to lack of rain the country was hard hit by water shortage between 2014 and 2015 resulting in failure of some of its dams.