As you read this, the South African electricity company, Eskom, is experiencing the most serious power shortages ever. So much so, that load shedding has become inevitable in that country.
This will obviously hurt the country’s economy, and those of its trading partners such as Botswana, hence this commentary on the state of affairs outside our borders.
Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has for many years relied heavily on Eskom for this important commodity, until recently when the two parties agreed to reduce the amount of power that Botswana imported.
We continue, to this day, to import some of our electricity from our neighbour after we failed to build a functioning power station in Morupule B.
However, it should be remembered that a few years ago, billions of tonnes of coal were discovered in Botswana.
The coal could generate enough power for the whole of southern Africa, not for one year, but for decades.
Foreign companies, the World Bank and other stakeholders showed interest in investing in the Mmamabule Power Station. The project would have cost billions of Dollars, but subsequently produce enough power for the region.
Everything was going well, until our big brother neighbour South Africa shoved the idea of importing our electricity and announced that the country would be happier to build its own power station. They would buy or import our coal.
To put it bluntly, that was sabotage.
We may not know what went on behind the scenes but our position is that South Africa should have allowed Botswana to go ahead and build a power station and import electricity from our side.
We may be a small nation, but this
There is no doubt many South African citizens who hold qualifications not available in Botswana would find employment at this power station, as is currently the situation in our industries, hospitals and mines, to name but a few.
The Mmamabule project reminds us of yet another huge and beneficial project that took decades to reach consensus – the Zambezi Bridge, which connects the southern and northern part of the region, and the continent.
Political leaders’ squabbles delayed this project, for which construction only started a few months ago.
We realise, sadly, that while other continents have thrived because the member states agreed to co-dependence for production of different commodities, we chose to compete
When one neighbour helps another, we strengthen our communities.
- Jennifer Pahlka