South Africa's ANC assures Botswana of power supply

Oct 07, 2008 02:00 AM

The new African National Congress (ANC) leadership has given assurances that South Africa will continue supplying power to Botswana until 2013. The Botswana Minister for Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, said he was given the assurances when he met with the new ANC top brass early this year to discuss power supply problems to Botswana.
The minister was talking about the power supply constraints expected to hit Botswana until end of November. By 2012, Botswana is expected to be an exporter of power when its Mmamabula project starts operating.

Currently, Botswana gets its supplies from its Morupule Power Station (120 MW) and imports from South Africa's Eskom (327 MW) and Mozambique (85 MW).
"The above supply sources give a total combined supply of 532 MW. Due to an on going statutory overhaul on one of the generating units, Morupule Power Station's output has been reduced to 90 MW. The overhaul is planned for completion at the end of November 2008. In addition to the Morupule shortfall, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is not able to access 50 MW of supply from Mozambique due to equipment failure and urgent remedial repairs on one of the Mozambique sources," he said.

Kedikilwe explained that he is aware of recent remarks made by the leadership of South Africa's powerful Confederation of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) that it might consider forcing Eskom to meet local demand before exporting electricity. The minister is hopeful that the good political and economic relations between the two countries will deter Eskom from switching off supplies to Botswana.
"I have held meetings with senior ANC members, some of them now in government and they appreciate how Botswana assisted them during the liberation struggle," he said.

Kedikilwe added that there are many South African companies doing business in Botswana hence switching off power to the country will be economic suicide for South Africa.
"However, governments are sovereign and can do what they want," said Kedikilwe.

The minister pleaded with people to preserve electricity at their homes and offices. He outlined ongoing projects to address power shortages in Botswana until 2013 when the multi-billion Mmamabula project is commissioned.
"As part of the long-term supply security strategy, our facilitation of Mmamabula Energy Project (MEP) is continuing. The project is still envisaged for commissioning in 2013 and is planned to supply 75 % of its output to South Africa, while 25 % will be for domestic use. The project sponsors are currently in discussions with interested Chinese parties," Kedikilwe said.

The minister visited China earlier, with a delegation of stakeholders from South Africa, to lend support to the project.
He said at the briefing that load-shedding has not affected the mining sector much, as they have put measures in place to alleviate the problem.

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