Botswana issues maiden power generation licences to private producers

GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana issued its first licences allowing three private companies to generate their own power which will mostly be destined for export, the energy regulator said on Thursday.

The Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have received 15-year generation licences and will produce a combined 827 megawatt (MW) of power.

State-owned Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is currently the sole producer of electricity but the country is looking to diversify with several private investors at various stages of setting up coal, gas and solar power projects.

“We need to come to a point where we no longer import but become exporters of electricity,” said Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive officer, Rose Seretse.

Energy & Natural Resource Corporation, which is owned by Strata, plans to construct a 600 MW coal-fired power station, Tlou Energy has been granted a licence to produce 2 MW of power through coal-bed methane and Sese Power, owned by First Quantum Minerals and African Energy have been licensed to generate and export 225 MW of power.

Despite its huge estimated coal resources of 212 billion tonnes, the diamond-rich country only has two operating coal mines with several investors at various stages of setting up coal mines for either export or power generation.

Lack of adequate rail infrastructure and the high costs of road transportation have been holding back investments in Botswana coal sector.

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