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Eskom set to import Botswana electricity

November 14, 2006 Business Day/All Africa Global Media

Eskom was set to import 70% of the 3600MW electricity that would be generated at the new $5,5bn Mmamabula power station in Botswana, the power utility said yesterday.

The power station will be built and managed by a Canadian firm, CIC Energy Corporation, and its UK partner, International Power.

The power plant, which is expected to come on stream in 2011, will be the largest coal-fired power station in Africa to be built and operated by an independent power producer.

The imported electricity will boost Eskom's dwindling energy reserves, which have been put under severe pressure by SA's buoyant economy and government's electrification programme.

Eskom projects that its peaking capacity of 36000MW will run out next year, followed by base load in 2010, if measures are not taken now

SA will have to generate about 12000MW-15000MW more power a year from 2009 to 2020 to meet growth in demand.

Speaking at the signing of a power purchase agreement between Eskom, CIC and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe said electricity demand in the entire southern African region was growing at an average rate of 3% a year.

"In response to the welcomed growth in the regional demand for electricity, the Southern African power pool has placed firmly on its agenda the need to increase electricity generation capacity in the region. At present, the installed capacity in the pool is about 50000MW, with the region's surplus generation capacity almost diminished," said Gcabashe.

The CEO said the capacity expansion programmes included the rehabilitation and building of hydropower plants in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A number of these hydro projects would be operational by 2010, Gcabashe said.

Coal-fired stations would also be built in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in addition to SA's R20bn power plant in Lephalale.

"We are excited that the need to increase the electricity generation capacity of the region has now moved beyond the initial planning phase" Gcabashe said in reference to the planned construction of the Mmamabula plant next year.

BPC chairman Ewetse Rakhudu said an additional investment of $1,2bn would be needed a year to build new generating capacity in the region.


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