Boost for Morupule B Power Station

Staff Writer
The Morupule B Power Station got a major boost this week with the announcement that Standard Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have been mandated as joint lead arrangers to finance the project

The Morupule B Power Station project involves the installation of 4 x 150 megawatt units. Associated projects include water supply works and the construction of transmission lines and substations for the distribution of power to the rest of the BPC grid.

The project also involves expansion of Debswana-owned Morupule Colliery that traditionally produces less than a million tonnes of coal annually.

The US$ 1, 6 billion (P12 billion) coal-fired Morupule B Power Station project is a major Botswana government initiative driven by the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). It is aimed at boosting the country's power generation capacity and comes in the wake of Eskom stepping down its power supply to Botswana under the pressure growing domestic demand in South Africa.

As part of this contract, the China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC), which is one of ICBC's top corporate clients, has been awarded a US$ 970 million contract to supply and build a significant portion of the power station. The Morupule B Power Station project is one of many initiatives BPC will undertake to restore a healthy power demand/supply balance in Botswana. According to statistics from the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Botswana's energy needs will rise to 610 megawatts (MW) in 2009 from 530MW in 2008 and above a planned capacity of 510MW in 2009.

This deficit is forecast to widen even more in 2010, with available capacity of 445MW and demand at 670MW. The deficit is expected to fall gradually over the years that follow as new projects come on stream, including the 250MW Independent Power Producer coal bed methane gas project and the coal-fired Morupule B Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects. This will increase Botswana's power grid capacity to 645MW in 2011 and 795MW in 2012 against a demand of 720MW in 2011 and 750MW in 2012.

In December 2008, BPC called for proposals from potential financiers to finance up to US$ 800 million of the project, with the BPC providing equity funding for the remaining portion.

The Standard Bank Group and ICBC submitted a single proposal which comprehensively covered all the solutions that BPC was looking for, and they were awarded the mandate.

The Standard Bank Group's on the ground presence in Botswana as Stanbic Bank and its experienced Global Markets, Debt Capital Markets and Project Finance expertise in Africa helped secure the mandate. Standard Bank and ICBC are arranging a US$ 825 million loan for 20 years, backed by a Botswana Ministry of Finance guarantee and a Sinosure

guarantee covering the project's political and commercial risks. A US$ 140 million bridge finance facility will also be provided.

Says Jacko Maree, the Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group: "This project will make a major difference to the lives of millions of people in Botswana and we are proud to be part of it. There is little doubt that had it not been for our strategic partnership with ICBC, we would not have been able to undertake the funding of a project of this scale.

Our partnership with ICBC has opened a unique financial services gateway between Africa and China and this project will hopefully be the first of many that are in the pipeline."

Says Jiang Jianqing, the Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China: "China and Africa boast extensive cooperative opportunities and a promising future in economic and trade partnerships. The strategic cooperation between ICBC and Standard Bank creates an outstanding financial services platform to bridge companies and projects on the two continents. ICBC is devoted to providing best services to companies, governments and retail clients, both in China and Africa, and will spare no effort in making our contribution to stimulate economic and social development in Africa. The Botswana project is a good beginning, and in future, ICBC and Standard Bank will continue their close cooperation to assist with economic and social development in Africa and China."

Leina Gabaraane, the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank says "this is a key milestone in Botswana's economic history of development. As the demand for power increases the world over, we are humbled to be in this partnership to pioneer a project of confounding magnitude."

Says Wang Yi, the President of Sinosure: "Sinosure, the official Export Credit Agency of China, is very pleased to be part of the Morupule B Power Station financing team.

Sinosure, in collaboration with the World Bank, will provide a credit guarantee to ICBC's facility to Botswana Power Corporation.

The Morupule B Power Station project is destined to be a milestone in the history of bilateral economic cooperation between China and Botswana. This sends a strong message to the world that even though it is experiencing the worst financial crisis in a century, Chinese banks, backed by Sinosure, are still available to provide export credit. I hope that with the smooth implementation of the Morupule B Power Station project, all parties can effectively promote mutual understanding and open the door to further economic cooperation between China and Botswana."



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