Botswana compelled to rehabilitate Zimbabwe transmission lines


This follows successful negotiations between Botswana and Mozambique, through the Ministers of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources of the two countries recently, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Dr Salvador Namburete, to the effect that Mozambique, through its power facilities, assist Botswana with firm power supply up to a level to be agreed in the near future.

In addition, it was also proposed that Mozambique facilitates the conclusion of a Power Purchase Agreement from its 50MW Natural Gas Fired IPP Power Plant

Kedikilwe said on his return from Mozambique recently, that all things being constant, it is expected that the arrangement between his government and the Mozambique government “enables us to acquire more than sufficient electricity supply between 2009 and the year 2013, when the Morupule B Power Station would be commissioned”.

Mozambique currently supplies Botswana with 70MW, but it is intended that upon finalization of discussions, it should be escalated to 120MW.

Furthermore, Mozambique is embarking on a huge hydropower development programme, which will translate in the development of Cabora Bassa North (1250MW), Mphanda Nkuwa (2400 MW) and other projects which in total are expected to generate up to (6030MW).

“Given that these are potentially lucrative ventures, from a commercial point of view, we felt that Botswana could take advantage and explore the potential to invest in the projects and for generating revenue in order to enhance our economic diversification programme,” said Kedikilwe, adding that all power from the said projects will be exported.

For this reason, the Botswana Minister pointed out that rehabilitation of Zimbabwe’s existing electricity supply infrastructure remains the only feasible transit vehicle for wheeling power across to Botswana.

To this end, technical teams from the two countries electricity authorities, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Zimbabwe Electricity Authority (ZESA) have been assigned to evaluate the technical transition capacity limits on some key high voltage transmission lines in Zimbabwe.

It emerges that, in addition to evaluating the technical transmission capacity on some key high voltage transmission lines in Zimbabwe, it has also been agreed that BPC and ZESA evaluate the Bulawayo Coal fired Power Station with a view to bringing it back into full operation. Upon completing the stipulated evaluations, the two teams have been given the express instruction to report by the end of this week (end of May, 2009) to the Ministers of the two countries with recommendations regarding cost, capacity and sustainability.

Speaking at a Press briefing early this week, Kedikilwe intimated that every possible means will be explored to ensure that where feasible, Botswana injects its resources, provided it is our best interest.

Although in the case of rehabilitating Zimbabwe’s existing electricity supply infrastructure for conveying power from Mozambique across to Botswana, a lot of money will have to be injected, Kedikilwe pointed out that subject to the outcome of the study by the Technical teams, Government might entertain what was described as “Prior to Purchase” arrangement with the Zimbabwean government.

In that case, Botswana would make a commitment to her northerly neighbour to the effect that she will require and therefore pledge to purchase a certain amount of power upon production by Zimbabwe, thus motivating them to resuscitate their transmission lines at own cost but assured of cost recovery and attendant benefits accruing from such an arrangement.

Basing on a similar logic, “It is against this background that we have previously stated our intention to offer supplying coal which Botswana has in abundance, for stimulation of the Bulawayo Coal Fired Power Station, upon completion of its rehabilitation, in exchange for electricity.”

Thus, over and above relaying electricity from Mozambique across to Botswana, Zimbabwe would enjoy the unfettered latitude to light and warm her citizens, whilst at the same time powering the economy.

On account of the experience Botswana had when ESKOM South Africa had problems of power shortage, the Mozambique option as well as cooperation with Zimbabwe could afford the country peace of mind.