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P500 million unleashed to keep BPC afloat

In the next financial year 2021/22 which begins 1st of April, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) will receive P500 million from government aimed at subsidizing the corporation to continue providing the nation with electricity at “affordable rates.”

This was revealed by Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security Lefoko Maxwell Moagi in Parliament on Wednesday. Moagi was presenting to lawmakers and seeking approval of his ministry’s budget proposal for the financial year 2021/22. This P500 million cash injection into BPC represents 56% of the Ministry’s development budget.

Moagi explained that the money will be allocated to the Botswana Power Corporation Tariff Support programme to cushion the corporation against non-cost reflective tariffs as well as meet the payment for the ICBM loan.

BPC which owns and operates power generation assets, distribution infrastructure, nationwide grids and consumer vending services has been struggling to recover costs for years, resulting in heavy dependence on government for operating capital.

Over the years government has been injecting between P500 million to P800 million and even up to billions of Pulas annually to support the corporation so as to avoid transferring costs to the consumer in the form on increased tariffs.

However, of recent, due to budget constraints, it has emerged that Government cannot take it anymore.  Last year March, Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) approved electricity tariffs increment of 22% in a bid to help BPC recover its costs. The increase as explained by BERA last year was to ensure tariffs are cost reflective, affordable and appropriately priced, noting that the rate was and still is one of the lowest amongst countries in the region without hydropower.

BPC has made operating losses for years due to high import costs, non-performing assets and operational inefficiencies, making it reliant on government subsidies to stay afloat. But notably the corporation has been making efforts in reducing and containing its costs as part of turnaround strategies that have seen operational losses fall from P2 billion in 2015 to P72 million in 2019.

Government subsidies have gradually reduced from a peak of P2.3 billion in 2015 to P800 million in 2019. Following the 22% tariffs hike last year March, BPC has submitted another tariff increase proposal to BERA for consideration. A public hearing has already been held where BPC defended its proposal before BERA officials and the public.

BPC continues to import half of Botswana’s annual power consumption from South African giant Eskom. The country is still awaiting the full operation of Morupule B Power station , a multi-billion Pula power generation asset constructed with a view to end Botswana’s power crises.

Morupule B, when in full operation will produce 600 mega-watts, is currently under maintenance and refurbishment following gross errors and a substandard job during construction.
The giant-4 units coal fuelled power plant is expected to roar to full capacity latest half year 2023. Currently Chinese contractors are on site in Palapye trying to breathe glory to the multibillion Pula power plant.

Meanwhile last year August, BERA awarded three licences to Independent Power Producers (IPP). Sese Power was granted a licence to produce 225 megawatts electricity from its Coal Bed Methane project in Makomoto, near Tonota along the A1 Road.  Botswana Stock Exchange listed Tlou Energy was awarded a licence to produce 2 Megawatts, also from coal bed methane fuelled project.

Tlou has already singed a pilot purchase agreement with Botswana Power Corporation. Tlou is planning to construct 66kv transmission line to connect its Lesedi Coal Bed Methane project to the national electricity grid. The third Independent Power Producer license was awarded to Energy & Natural Resources Corporation.  The company will produce 600 Megawatts from its coal fired power plant located north of Morupule Coal Mine in Palapye.

In parliament this week, Moagi revealed that the Power Generation and Distribution programme has been allocated the second largest share of the development budget at P171,485,053 (One hundred and seventy one million, four hundred and eighty five thousand and fifty three Pula) or 19%.  The provision is towards continuation of the Backbone Power Transmission projects of Mochudi, Tlokweng and Ramotswa as well as the Provision of Services for Power Supply Build Programme

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ILO Launches Media Toolkit on Reporting on Labour Migration

5th July 2024

Cape Town: The International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration, launched the Southern African Migration Management Project (SAMM) media toolkit on reporting on labour migration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region last week. This toolkit is designed to guide journalists and media professionals in balanced and factual reporting on labour migration, thereby enhancing the quality and media coverage of migration issues within the SADC region.

Furthermore, the toolkit aims to advocate for behavioural changes among migrant workers, employer organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, governments, and policymakers to improve conditions for migrants and reduce exploitative practices.

At the official launch, Gloria Moreno Fontes, SAMM Project Manager, stated that the toolkit aims to support the United Nations’ “Together, Respect, Security, and Dignity for All Refugees and Migrants” campaign, launched in 2016 by the UN Secretary-General. According to Fontes, the UN Together campaign seeks to promote global action against non-discrimination and address the rising problem of xenophobia against migrants and refugees. TOGETHER is a growing coalition of Member States, private sector entities, civil society representatives, and individuals committed to combating hate speech, changing negative narratives on migration, and strengthening social cohesion between host communities and refugees and migrants.

“Worldwide, migrants are still too often victims of racist, discriminatory, and xenophobic attacks. The media often promotes a toxic public narrative on migration and reinforces stigmatization through the inclusion of xenophobic and discriminatory messages,” Fontes highlighted.

She further noted that the press often portrays migrants as criminals, illegals, and as “stealing jobs from national workers.” She emphasized that migrants frequently become scapegoats during economic recessions, making it essential to change negative perceptions and attitudes through evidence- or fact-based journalism that helps eliminate public misconceptions.

Discussing the importance of balanced reporting and combating hate speech, United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Director Masimba Tafirenyika remarked that journalists hold the power to shape public opinion and influence societal norms. He continued, noting that the practice not only ensures a well-informed public but also upholds the democratic values of fairness and justice.

“Alongside balanced reporting, the rise of hate speech, especially on digital platforms, presents a growing threat to social cohesion and democratic values. Hate speech undermines social harmony and can incite violence, discrimination, and prejudice,” Tafirenyika noted.

According to the UNIC Director, balanced reporting builds public trust in the media as audiences perceive journalists as fair and unbiased, thus making them more likely to trust the information presented. He added that this trust is crucial for the media to uphold democracy, as it empowers citizens to engage in informed debate and hold their leaders accountable.

However, Tafirenyika pointed out that the media landscape in Southern Africa, with a few exceptions, is often marred by political interference, economic pressures, and, in some cases, self-censorship. “These factors can lead to biased reporting, where certain voices are amplified while others are marginalized. When media outlets become mouthpieces for political agendas, the public’s trust in journalism is eroded, and the democratic process is undermined. Therefore, it is essential for journalists and media organizations to adhere to ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, and impartiality,” the UNIC Director noted.

He further highlighted that hate speech poses a significant threat to social cohesion and stability, especially in Southern Africa. “The digital age has amplified the reach and impact of hate speech. Social media platforms, while offering opportunities for free expression and civic engagement, also provide a breeding ground for hate speech,” Tafirenyika concluded.

 

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CEO Africa Roundtable: Mnangagwa advocates for technological embrace

17th June 2024

The CEO Africa Roundtable has emerged as a pivotal platform for shaping national, regional, and international development dialogues through public-private engagements. At the annual CEO Africa Roundtable event held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa exhorted business leaders to embrace technology and leverage indigenous solutions to stimulate Africa’s economic growth.

Mnangagwa highlighted that the presence of delegates from across the continent signifies the business community’s confidence in Zimbabwe’s trade and investment environment, as well as in the broader regional (SADC) and continental markets.

Addressing the theme, “The Future of Africa: Modernize, Reshape, and Grow,” President Mnangagwa asserted that this theme aligns with Africa’s developmental aspirations, emphasizing the need “to innovate in order to increase production and productivity, as espoused in the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

He remarked that the Roundtable provides its members with a valuable platform for networking, gaining expert insights, sharing experiences regarding the local business environment, and proposing policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the business operating environment.

The President lauded the CEO Africa Roundtable and its partners for organizing focused discussions, dialogue sessions, and innovative platforms tailored to various key economic sectors as part of the event.

“Innovation and the use of information communication technology are critical enablers as we traverse the journey towards modernizing and reshaping the African continent’s economic landscape,” Mnangagwa stated.

According to Mnangagwa, the world is on the cusp of a technological revolution that is transforming how “we work and relate to one another.” He noted that this shift involves a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

This technological disruption is affecting every industry, hence Mnangagwa urged business leaders and policymakers to capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution, which holds the potential to elevate global income levels and enhance the quality of life for populations worldwide.

President Mnangagwa challenged African business leaders to be innovative, embrace their identities, and devise homegrown solutions. He asserted that Africans possess the platform and intelligence to elevate the continent’s economy to greater heights.

Earlier, CEO Africa Roundtable Chairman Oswell Binha indicated that the platform is expanding across Africa. He welcomed the addition of three new chapters in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia. He further noted that more chapters will be introduced as part of efforts to foster collaboration among African businesses, harnessing the principles of the Africa Free Trade Area and regional integration. Over 300 delegates from across Africa attended the CEO Roundtable event in Victoria Falls.

 

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BOTSWANA PARTICIPATES IN CEO AFRICA ROUNDTABLE SUMMIT

16th June 2024

At the prestigious CEO Africa Roundtable Summit held in Victoria Falls, Botswana was represented by the Chairperson of the CEO Africa Roundtable Botswana Chapter, Tryphinah Dongwana-Kenalemang, and her deputy, Aubrey Lute. This annual convergence, themed “The Future of Africa: Modernize, Reshape, and Grow,” drew luminaries from across the continent.

Over 300 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and business Executives attended the Summit.

Dongwana-Kenalemang elaborated on the significance of Botswana’s attendance, emphasizing that it served as a benchmarking exercise in preparation for hosting a similar event in Botswana. She underscored the imperative for African nations to collaborate and exchange trade insights, thereby unlocking a wealth of opportunities.

The CEO Africa Roundtable is dedicated to fostering economic growth and sustainable development across the continent. Its objectives include promoting intra-African trade, driving innovation, and forging strategic partnerships. The platform enables business leaders to share knowledge, engage in high-level dialogue, and influence policy-making.

The genesis of the Botswana Chapter’s relationship with the CEO Africa Roundtable dates back to their initial encounter at the US-Africa Business Summit in July 2023, held in Gaborone. This seminal meeting laid the groundwork for ongoing collaboration and mutual support in advancing Africa’s economic future.

 

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