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BPC probes recent system failures

BPC customers were stranded on Sunday when the power vendors system was down. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is banking on the multi-billion remediation work at Morupule B to ease the country's electricity supply situation.

The sensitivity of national electricity supply was exposed recently, when a critical sub-station failed, plunging most parts of the country into darkness for more than an hour in some places. 

Over the weekend, the Corporation suffered an ICT failure which meant customers could not buy electricity or call to report faults. 

New BPC CEO, David Kgoboko told journalists this morning that the recent failures were being investigated.

“We have identified gaps that needs to be addressed which include lack of early warning on power cuts, lack of emergency back-ups amongst others," he said.

"Investigations are ongoing to establish the root causes of the (recent) incident so that preventative measures can be put in place to prevent recurrence." 

The tight supply and limited reserve electricity mean any failure in the grid leads to blackouts, experts say. Ideally, engineers say any national grid should have a ten percent reserve to cater for faults and to ensure the system integrity remains intact even in the event of high demand pressure.

Kgoboko said remedial work at the 600MW Morupule B was progressing well,

which when finalised would give Botswana greater electricity stability. BPC documents indicate the full remedial work at Morupule B should be complete by 2023.

According to available information, Morupule B’s failure to launch after its completion in 2012 was because of design, construction and quality issues in key components at the four units.

The plant suffered and continues to experience frequent breakdowns, forcing the BPC to rely on more costly emergency diesel power or even costlier imports from South Africa. The damage to the economy caused over the years is nearly incalculable, with loadshedding haunting local businesses and households.

Kgoboko said the BPC is also working on several clean energy projects. These include solar power plants supplying 250MW to be built in Jwaneng and Selebi Phikwe, as well as the conversion of the 90MW Orapa plant to gas from diesel.

The Corporation is also planning to introduce direct credit of units into meters, as opposed to the current system where customers have to load the meters with a code obtained after buying from the BPC.


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