Botswana exporting power, SA among buyers

Gaborone - Botswana is exporting power for the first time in 10 years, a far cry from the days when Africa’s biggest miner of diamonds was forced to import as much as 75% of its needs.

State-owned Botswana Power started “limited” sales to the Southern African Power Pool’s auction platform, where regional utilities buy and sell electricity, Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schwarzfischer said in an interview on Thursday.

Sales have been made possible by improved plant availability at the flagship 600MW Morupule B plant, which is now producing 450 megawatts and is expected to reach full capacity next month, Schwarzfischer said. Exports will rise to a targeted 100 megawatts once the 120MW Morupule A plant is put back online in July, following a six-year refurbishment programme, he said.

Botswana’s problems started in 2008 when its main provider, South Africa’s Eskom, cut supplies citing a lack of power in its home market.

Botswana fast-tracked the Morupule B plant in response, but it was beset with construction problems and machine failures.

“Namibia and South Africa have been the buyers thus far through the SAPP platform,” Schwarzfischer said.

“While we would want bilateral supply contracts, the countries we know could pay us don’t need it and those that need the power have problems paying.”

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