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Selibe Phikwe could house Botswana Oil Coal Liquefaction Plant

Selibe Phikwe might be considered for the multibillion pula Coal Liquefaction Project (CLP) by Botswana Oil Limited, Acting Minister in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Nonofo Molefhi had told Parliament.


Minister Molefhi was addressing a question tabled by Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who wanted parliament to be updated on the progress of the much anticipated coal-to-liquids project, what it entails, the current stage of project implementation and timelines as well as projected employment opportunities to be created by the  billion dollar petroleum end product undertaking.


The youthful Selibe Phikwe lawmaker also wanted to know the prospects of Selibe Phikwe being considered for housing the plant as part of the town’s resuscitation and economic recovery undertakings after the sudden demise of BCL mine late last year, which resulted in thousand job losses.


In response, Molefhi who was standing in  for Minister Sadique Kebonang, who was reported to be abroad on BCL acquisition matters, told parliament  that the Ministry of was currently going through proposals from interested petroleum companies from the private sector who put forth expressions to develop a Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) Plant. The plant is expected to convert Botswana ‘s abundant tones of coal to petroleum fluids.


“Mr Speaker, my Ministry is inundated with requests and proposals from the private sector to develop Coal to Liquids plant (CTL) in Botswana together with Botswana Oil Limited (BOL)” Molefhi said, explaining that their interest was to have Botswana Oil Limited as the anchor customer of their petroleum products.


“As you are aware, Botswana imports all her petroleum requirements (approximately 1.2 billion liters per year) from the Republic of South Africa with small quantities coming from Namibia and Mozambique” he noted. It is believed that the development of the CTL plant will go a long way in ensuring that Botswana becomes fuel self-sufficient with further potential of being a net exporter of petroleum products in Southern Africa and the African region.

 

Reports from parliament indicate that the coal to liquids projects require substantial investment; it is estimated that the plant which would meet Botswana’s current annual demand of 1.2 billion of petroleum products could costs between US $ 3 – 4 billion (P40 billion) over a four (4) to five (5) year construction period.


According to Minister Molefhi although the Government recognizes the importance of the project as well as its potential turn around to economic diversification efforts, the Selibe Phikwe East Lawmaker observes that it will however be very expensive for the state to develop the plant alone. “Though this would replace the current importation of approximately one billion liters of petroleum products annually, the expenditure will be too high for Government under the current financial pressures to bear” he said.


Molefhi also added that currently government through the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security is readying itself for assessment processes in which it will screen and come up with qualified private companies to partner with Botswana Oil Limited: “As things stand, my Ministry has developed a Pre-Qualification criteria which will be used to select companies that can be facilitated in order to realize the project. The Pre-Qualification Notice will be in the media platforms soon” He said.


The Acting Minister noted that the project will be a private sector led investment, with Government’s role limited to being that of facilitator. “Botswana Oil Limited as a company mandated to ensure Botswana‘s petroleum self sufficiency is engaging experts in the field to provide Technical Advisory Services to Botswana Government.” He revealed that currently the project was at concept stage with no detailed studies conducted as yet.


“The project schedule and timelines will become realistic once consultants are on the ground and that of course is being planned for end of this month, the private sector also continues to explore avenues of implementing the project’” Said Molefhi.


PROSPECTS OF THE CTL PLANT BEING SET UP IN PHIKWE


Following the placing of Bamangwato Concessions Limited (BCL) under provisional liquidation, Botswana government has devised economic recovery strategies to revitalize the town and the entire Region which used to be lively before the demise of its economic engine, BCL mine.


Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse wants government and Botswana Oil to facilitate the Coal-to Liquids plant towards being built in Phikwe, a project he explains will make a permanent economic turnaround in the town and the entire SPEDU region. When posing a supplementary question after Minister Molefhi‘s description of the project in parliament last week “Thank you Honourable Minister.

 

I just wanted to find out from you, in light of what you have said about the cost of the project, whether you are working with any multilateral or bilateral development partners in that regard? Also concerning Selibe Phikwe, don’t you think that this is a project in which Selibe Phikwe must be given priority given the recent placement of BCL under provisional liquidation?”


In response however, Minister Molefhi, who is also an MP for Selebi Phikwe East,  noted that the location of the project will depend largely on the feasibility studies by consultants and potential investors. He added that the availability of resources and accessibility of raw materials being coal, will influence the decision of plant location.


 “The location of the CTL plant will be greatly influenced by the availability of raw materials, the distance from the plant will be critical, of course that will also take into consideration lowering of costs of production to ensure that they are manageable. My Ministry through Botswana Oil Company will work closely with the private sector and other sectors of Government to ensure that the project addresses the current challenges and facilitate the investment by the private sector” he explained.


Molefhi stipulated that considering the situation in Selibe Phikwe after closure of BCL mine, the shortlisted investors will have the discretion to decide on the location of the plant, “The consultants will manage the guideline and the framework which has been designed for the selection and the short listing of potential investors.

 

The decision on the location of the plant is a decision to be made by the investors. Taking into account what is also available for Selibe Phikwe as incentive packages, Government would soon be announcing the extent of packages and that is designed to motivate people to consider Selibe Phikwe as an investment zone”.


Since location of the project will also be influenced by the cost benefit analysis, if it is found that locating project in Selibe Phikwe away from where the abundance of the resources are (Palapye), can be accommodated, at that point a decision would be made by the investors and of course they will take into consideration the incentive packages which Government would extend or has decided to extend to Selibe Phikwe as a  Special Economic Zone


When speaking to WeekendPost this past week, Keorapetse added that since structures and mechanism is already in place, which transported coal from Morupule to BCL mine, the same infrastructure can be sourced and used, if the plant is in Selibe Phikwe.
“Since government is somewhat constrained to immediately start the project because of unavailability of resources.

 

The state should amenably engage multilateral and bilateral development partners like it did with projects such as Kazungula Bridge, for instance, for sourcing out resources to immediately start this project and give Selibe Phikwe a priority, especially given that the primary raw material for the project is coal and this coal was used by BCL from Morupule Colliery and it can just be a continuation of the usage of that coal’’ he said


The Acting Minister who is also in this regard Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East told this publication that consultations have been extensive in terms of looking at the scope of the project, its potential and cost of investment and therefore government will be putting up the project to public tender.


“We will be doing so, so that we are able to select the experts who will provide Government with the appropriate advice. On the basis of that, we would then progress the project to the next level where the selected companies would then determine the extent of the investment, at this point in time, it is difficult to give an estimated number of people the project can employ. Like I said, we are still at concept design stage,” Molefhi explained.

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Food prices continue to rise, but at a slower rate

28th November 2022

Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

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Still doing business the old way?

18th November 2022

It’s time to get business done better with MTN Business Botswana’s ICT Solutions.

Running a digital businessMTN Business Solutions Botswana, popularly known as MTN Business is an Internet Service Provider. We are a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, a multinational telecommunications Group headquartered in South Africa, which operates in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East.

More and more, clients are looking for ways to keep their staff productive in a dynamically changing business environment. Whether your people are working from home, the office or abroad, there is a growing recognition that digitising your operations can offer unprecedented commercial value in flexibility, productivity and growth. This new, digital reality means that it is more important than ever to stay agile – if there is anything that can slow a business down, it is being burdened by othatld technology.

Having made substantial investments in fibre technology, high-speed terrestrial and undersea networks and new frequency spectrum across the markets wherein it operates, MTN is perfectly positioned to respond to this shift in the market.

A few years ago, MTN also made the decision to build an IP capable radio network for its mobile services, giving its core network the ability to seamlessly integrate with enterprise IP networks. The mobile towers deliver services to enterprise clients absolutely anywhere it has a network, shortening the last mile and removing complexity and cost.

Now there is increasing demand from clients to connect their remote sites in all areas, including rural and semi- rural. MTN has assisted clients with overcoming this connectivity hurdle, enabling their staff to get the job done wherever they are.
MTN’s evolution

For MTN, the focus has shifted from just being a core telecommunications services provider, towards also becoming a technology solutions provider. The service offering now also includes Unified Communications, Data Hosting and Cloud Solutions, Security-As-A-Service and Managed Network Services. The scope has changed to being client and industry specific, so the requirements and service portfolio vary from one client to the next. The expectation is that a company like MTN must respond to these challenges, helping clients to get business done better as they shift from old to new technologies.

As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
Ultimately, clients need partners like MTN Business that will invest in infrastructure, deliver the services they require, have market credibility, are financially sound and have a long-term commitment to their market presence.

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BIE to vitalize the Dignity of Engineers

9th November 2022

Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in  which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.

The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.

Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.

“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.

He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.

Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.

“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.

He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.

He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc

“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran

Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.

“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.

Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that  the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.

“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.

He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.

“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams

He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .

Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution  said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.

“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.

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