Thursday, September 24, 2020

World Bank scolds Botswana’s less robust investment in electricity

Botswana government and World Bank maybe headed for a war of words after the Breton Woods institution preliminary draft report on the country’s infrastructure advancement revealed it is behind its peers when it comes to investment in power.

A recent report on Africa’s infrastructure by the World Bank has stated that although the country has been spending more funds on transport and water, the same can not be said of power.

“Botswana is a good story for infrastructure sector expansion, but power remains of a huge concern,” the report summed up Botswana’s status as compared to other countries like South Africa and Mauritius.

The draft report, which is still up for discussions, gathered its baseline data in the period between 2006-07 and maybe criticised for ignoring power evolution after that period.

“There is a growth in spending in water and roads, but no expenditure in power,” added Cecillia Briceno-Garmendia, the co-editor of the report.

There are currently two massive power projects that Botswana is working on, including the Morupule B and Mmamabula Export Power Project.

These are multi billion projects that are expected to give the country the much needed self reliance in electricity and export surplus.

Botswana currently gets 350 MW from Eskom, but the number is expected to be reduced to 250 MW in December, when the South African power utility company cuts exports to meet its domestic demand, that will leave Botswana under an electricity deficit.

CIC Energy, the developers of Mmamabula project, is currently waiting for the signing of Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) by Eskom.

During his State of the Nation address, Botswana President Ian Khama revealed a raft of initiatives aimed at mitigating power deficit.

These include Power Management Programme like peak demand strategy targeting major electricity consumers and 70 MW diesel powered emergency generation facility, which is expected to be completed next month.

Khama said that efforts are also made to fast track a Gas Fired Power Station, a project that involves the development of an integrated 250 MW Open cycle Gas Turbine and a coal bed methane power plant fed by sub-stations situated at Orapa (90 MW) and Mmashoro area (160 MW).

“Other long term measures to exploit Botswana’s abundant coal resources, include the planned construction of a 1, 200 MW power station at Mmamabula by CIC Energy. There has, however, been modest progress on this project in recent months due to protracted negotiations with offtakers,” said Khama.

The World Bank revealed that Botswana needs to spend over US$ 746 million on infrastructure to catch up with the developing world over the next 10 years.

However, the Breton Woods institution stated that Botswana stands in an enviable position as it can connect to the North South grid that include countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia and the muted Wescor.

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