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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said the first major Independent Power Producer (IPP) project, which is set to deliver 300MW of coal fired base load generation capacity into the grid, will significantly enhance the security of electricity supply to the economy and end Botswana’s dependence on neighbouring countries to meet the country’s electrical energy demand which continues to increase.
Giving a keynote address at the ground breaking ceremony for the 300 megawatts greenfield coal fire plant in Mmamabula this morning, Masisi said the project is a clear demonstration of the government’s unwavering commitment to delivering on promises that transform Botswana’s energy landscape and ensure self-reliance and a resilient power supply which is an enabler for attaining a high income economy.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Jindal Steel and Power, for committing to develop, finance, construct, own, operate, maintain and decommission at the end of its economic life an integrated project comprising a coal mine and a 300MW power plant under a thirty (30) year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC,” Masisi highlighted.
He said while the commercial electricity trade arrangements under the auspices of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) which Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has been dependent on to meet the nation’s power demand for several years is a progressive development, it has become financially unsustainable to rely on power imports from our neighbours due to the regional power generation deficit.
To this end Masisi is of the view reliance on power imports to meet increasing electricity requirements is no longer an option as this poses a huge risk to the economy, noting that the backbone of our economy is currently mining, which needs to be supported 24 hours by reliable base load electricity supply.
“When delivered by the end of 2027, as anticipated, the 300MW base load generation will significantly augment our current base load generation from Morupule B power station which is currently our main source of base load generation with a net capacity of 520MW. Our electricity peak demand is now close to 700 MW during the winter peak demand season which means that our current generation capacity is not sufficient to meet this peak hence the importance of increasing our power generation capacity in line with the Integrated Resource Plan.” Masisi said
On environmental management, Masisi said the 300MW coal fired power plant will deploy modern clean coal technology which limits emissions of harmful gases namely Sulphur Dioxide (SoX) and Nitrous Oxides (NoX) to international environmental standards.
He further hastened to indicated that Botswana will continue to exploit its primary energy resources namely coal, solar, wind and others in a sustainable manner. Our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) aims to achieve a sustainable energy mix comprising renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
“I am gratified to note that the 300MW power plant project provides meaningful citizen participation to the tune of 40% shareholding by citizen owned entities. To this end, from the onset, the project company, Jindal Energy Botswana has 10% shareholding by a citizen owned company, as of now. I am advised that the target is to have 40% shareholding in the project company by the 10th anniversary of the commercial operation of the project,” he said.
On other issues of electrification, Masisi announced that 456 villages out of the 565 gazetted villages have been electrified, translating to 81% village electrification level.
He further said the during the current financial year, the Village Electrification Programme will see electrification in six (6) new villages, namely, Lepashe, Setsile, Mokoswane, Khekhenye, Betesankwe, and Makgaba, in addition to network extension in 27 villages which were electrified in previous years.
“Currently, the national electrification level stands at 66%, making Botswana one of the leading countries in the region in terms of access to electricity by households. In 2022, the Government reduced the electricity connection fees for households with an income of P2,500 and below from P5,000 to P2,500 with the aim of reducing the cost of electricity connection to low-income households and thus increasing access to electricity. We are currently reviewing the connection fees with the intention of achieving zero connection costs.”
Masisi has called on the local community and leadership to support the project which underpins the security of electricity supply to the economy and would become the flagship project for the district. As without the support, the project would not be a success from the perspective of ESG principles of business investment.