Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schwarzfische has explained government’s decision to give priority to Chinese state owned company China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) in the purchasing of the troubled Morupule B plant.
While open tendering process is usually perceived as the best method to adopt in public procurement, government instead chose the selective tendering process in their decision to sell the Morupule B plant. The selective tendering process limits the number of companies which participate in the tendering process.
The newly appointed German national said the decision was taken mainly as mitigation against risks which may arise as a result of the complexity of the project, as well as consideration to issues which surrounded the plant. “Other buyers do not know the plant as much as CNEEC,” he said this week, adding that: “there are risks that come with a project of that nature and they wanted to lessen those risks.”
Schwarzfische revealed that government is expecting a firm offer from CNEEC in the next four weeks. The process of negotiations is expected to drag until the end of year and announcement on the outcome of the negotiations to be made in the first quarter of January 2018, the BPC boss revealed. He further indicated that if the negotiations between government and CNEEC are not successful, government will resort to other options through conducting another bidding process.
“There are certain things we cannot reveal now because we do not want to jeopardise the confidentiality of another partner but if the negotiations fail we will put the sale of Morupule B on tender again,” he explained. It is expected that Morupule B will take at least four years for it to be fully functional as all the four units will go through a testing period of 12 months each.
Morupule B, which was commissioned in 2008 was expected to be fully functional in 2012. As per the agreement of government and contractors Morupule B Power station was supposed to be completed on the following date; 15th January 2012, 15th April 2012, 15th July 2012 and 15th October 2012 for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4 respectively. However the taking over was completed in May 2014 due to delays. Morupule B was funded by World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) to the tune of P11 billion becoming the most expensive single project that government has undertaken since independence.
In an unexpected move, in 2016, then Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila informed parliament about government’s decision to sell Morupule B after liability period. The 24 month liability period which was scheduled to end in June 2016 was extended for the contractor to make good on the outstanding defects, some of which were impacting on the reliability or availability of the power plant, according to government. The decision to sell Morupule B attracted criticism from various quarters, with Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko vehemently opposing the idea of selling such a valuable government asset.
The sale of Morupule B was also opposed by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which has threatened a lawsuit against government; federation of public sector unions, BOFEPUSU was also opposed to the sale. BOFEPUSU believes the sale of Morupule B to CNEEC will present a security threat for the country. The decision to sell Morupule B was followed by approval private sector participation in the energy sector, and also to establish the regulator by parliament.
This week in a press conference the Minister of Mineral Resource, Energy Security and Green Technology Sadique Kebonang addressed members of the press with the intention of creating conversation with regard to issues surrounding his ministry. Kebonang replaced Mokaila in the ministry following the re-designation of ministries and cabinet reshuffle. The water department has since been moved to Ministry of Lands, Water and Sanitation.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.