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SA’s mind games plunged SADC into power crisis

Botswana’s resources could power SADC region

While the Southern African region is reeling in devastating power supply challenges, research demonstrates that resources are available to supply the region, provided there is cooperation between partners.

A research paper titled Botswana’s Coal: Dead in the Water or Economic Game Changer? released by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAII) in November 2014, penned by Ross Harvey, concludes that: The reasons for South Africa’s lack of co-operation on the Mmamabula project remain unknown.

In hindsight, it would have lost nothing either politically or economically. Political and economic ‘losers’ would normally attempt to block the advance of new initiatives and technologies to protect their own rent streams, but in this case the mutual benefit from co-operation seems obvious.

Meanwhile, the South African government is finalising plans to procure 9000 MW of nuclear power, which is patently unwarranted in the light of the country’s capital borrowing constraints and the time lag of 10 years before any of the six proposed stations come into operation.

The purchase of 1 200 MW from MEP would provide revenue for Botswana and sufficient electricity supply in the short run for both countries, especially when considered alongside the existing 600 MW generated by Morupule B Power Station. Even in the absence of South Africa’s co-operation, coal-to-liquid and gas-to-liquid technologies could potentially be harnessed regionally to provide energy security for Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.

“More urgent research is required into how this could work and where the stations could be positioned optimally. Coal bed methane in Botswana, and natural gas from Mozambique and Namibia, along with coal in Mozambique and Botswana, could power at least these three countries into the foreseeable future,” states Harvey in his paper.

South Africa is in the process of building three large coal-fired power stations. Eskom, the state owned entity responsible for power generation, in partnership with the national Department of Public Enterprises, promised that the first of these, Medupi, would go live by the end of 2012. Mid-way through 2014, it was still not producing power. In an effort to compensate for the foreseen supply shortage after the 2008 blackout crisis, Eskom embarked on a programme of procuring power from independent power producers.

Harvey observes in his paper that the 2.7 billion tonne Mmamabula project was heavily dependent on guarantees that Eskom would purchase Mmamabula’s power under an IPP agreement, but South Africa later reneged on its promise, leading to the project failing. The project was expected to help Botswana attain energy independence and boost diversification away from diamonds. South Africa’s u-turn sparked allegations that Eskom was protecting its monopoly on thermal power generation.

The purchase of 1200 MW from MEP would provide revenue for Botswana and sufficient electricity supply in the short run for both countries, especially when considered alongside the existing 600 MW generated by Morupule B Power Station. Even in the absence of South Africa’s co-operation, coal-to-liquid31 and gas-to-liquid technologies could potentially be harnessed regionally to provide energy security for Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.

More urgent research is required into how this could work and where the stations could be positioned optimally. Coal bed methane in Botswana, and natural gas from Mozambique and Namibia, along with coal in Mozambique and Botswana, could power at least these three countries into the foreseeable future.

CIC Energy’s Mmamabula Energy Project, is a planned 1200 megawatt (net) capacity power station and integrated coal mine project in Botswana that is intended to provide power to South Africa. Notwithstanding the suspension of the ME, this project remains the most advanced independent power producer (IPP) project that can meet the demand for new baseload capacity in South Africa in the medium term.

In December 2009, CIC Energy suspended all development activities for the MEP unrelated to the regulatory approval process in South Africa, after South Africa’s first integrated resource plan (IRP1) was made public and unexpectedly did not cover the time period relevant for the MEP.  In May 2011, South Africa’s second integrated resource plan was completed and unfortunately did not provide any opportunity for the Company to supply power to South Africa prior to 2019, and then only in smaller amounts than 1200 megawatts.

The research concludes that: “Climate change and its attendant mitigation and adaptation policies pose a serious risk to any new coal-mining or coal-fired power investments. However, electrifying Southern Africa through coal by harnessing new technologies is arguably less environmentally and socially costly than the current costs of indoor air pollution from burning wood and other fuels. This only holds until solar base load becomes a reliable and cost-competitive source of power. Botswana is endowed with abundant coal resources, with potential exports of around 72 Mt/a and the ability to generate at least 1200 MW of extra power through MEP. However, its options in terms of exporting the resource are limited and costly. This note argues that new thinking is necessary, and calls for research to ascertain how to optimally harness the region’s coal and gas to secure reliable power generation. Without power, sustainable economic growth will remain a pipedream. Protecting the environment in the process also remains a significant challenge.”

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

6th December 2021

Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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