16 Mar

Botswana Turns Power Exporter After a Decade of Imports

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 percent of its needs.

State-owned Botswana Power Corp. 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 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 program, he said.

Botswana’s problems started in 2008 when its main provider, South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., 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.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-15/botswana-turns-power-exporter-after-a-decade-of-imports

02 Mar

Botswana’s President Speaks His Mind About Fellow African Leaders, and Trump

As most African leaders maintained a stony silence in response to Congolese leader Joseph Kabila’s determination to postpone elections and extend his stay in office, Botswana President Ian Khama’s government shot straight from the hip.

“Some political leaders refuse to relinquish power when their term of office expires,” it said on Twitter. “It is clear that such leaders are driven by self-interest, instead of those of the people they govern. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a case in point.”

A 65-year-old former army general who plans to step down next month after a decade in power, Khama has established a long-standing reputation for eschewing the niceties that are the trademark of international diplomacy.

He’s sniped at leaders from the U.S.’s Donald Trump to Sudan’s Umar al-Bashir. When Robert Mugabe was toppled as president of neighbouring Zimbabwe last year after almost four decades in office, he responded bluntly on Facebook: “Better late than never.”

Khama has some justification for taking the moral high ground. The United Nations ranks diamond-dependent Botswana among Africa’s most developed nations, while a foundation started by Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim has consistently rated it as one of the continent’s best-run. Its A2 credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service is the highest in the region.

Khama’s upbringing and military background may explain his no-nonsense approach. He’s the son of Seretse Khama, who served as Botswana’s first president after it gained independence from the U.K. in 1966.

The older Khama’s marriage to Briton Ruth Williams stoked outrage in neighbouring South Africa, where the apartheid government outlawed inter-race marriages.

After leaving the military, Khama served for a decade as vice president to Festus Mogae, replacing him as president when he stepped down in April 2008.

Months later he rejected the declaration of Mugabe as the winner of Zimbabwean elections that were marred by violence and intimidation, the only leader of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community to do so.

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