Botswana Power Corporation’s (BPC) Masa 2020 strategy whose aim is to transform the corporation into a profitable and efficient entity by 2020 is beginning to take shape. Addressing the media, BPC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Stephan Schwarzfischer said they are happy with the shape that the strategy is taking, with significant improvement in the corporation. Based on five themes being Financial Turnaround, Service delivery, SHERQ culture, Organisational Efficiency and Service Power Supply, Dr Schwarzfischer hailed the strategy.
Service Power Supply
Botswana, which has been depending on South Africa and Mozambique for its power supply, has seen the import decreased from 32% in 2016/17 to 19% in 2017 as part of BPC achieving Service Power Supply. This, according to Schwarzfischer, is due to improved performance of Morupule B Power Station. The remediation at the power plant will reduce the power imports further and overall maintenance of Unit 4 will reduce the import to 4%. “In the future power imports will only cover for the peak demand between 6:00 and 8:00 am as it does not make commercial sense to invest into these generation capacities,” he said, adding that there is no need to reduce the import to 0%.
Morupule A refurbishment
In August 2012, Morupule B was shut down due to ageing equipment and pollution with its refurbishment beginning in 2016 with completion expected in October 2017. Schwarzfischer said the project experienced delays due to implementation of modifications in order to achieve high performance of the plant and stability of power generation. “The Plant will be fully operation in July 2018,” he revealed.
There have been calls from various stakeholders that government should invest in renewable energy and Schwarzfischer said they have embarked on a comprehensive renewable power development strategy in which they will develop and operate a 100 MW Solar Power Plant. The power generating corporation will also develop and operate mini-hybrid power plant in 20 isolated villages as a joint venture. “In addition, BPC will build 12 smaller solar PV Plants in dedicated villages as Independent Power Producers (total 75MW),” revealed the BPC CEO.
Operational Profit Improvement
When Schwarzfischer took over as the CEO of BPC he inherited a company which was weighed down by non-cost reflective tariffs, high cost of imports, non-performing assets and operational inefficiencies. In their 2015/16 financial report, the corporation posted a P1.9 billion operating loss, only helped by a P2.3 billion tariff subsidy by government. Due to Masa 2020 strategy, BPC has seen improvement in their balance sheet with operation profit improvement being at 28% in January 2018 against 13% in January 2017. On restructuring of the corporation, he revealed that Phase 1 of restructuring has been completed with members of the Executive Committee appointed.“368 staff at Bands 6-11 have been released on Voluntary Separation for positions which were not required anymore,” said Schwarzfischer, reasoning that in some instance they had duplication of duties giving example of having cleaners while they had outsourced the services. They have begun Phase 2 of restructuring in which the corporation will increase its efficiency over the next four years.
Liquid Telecom Botswana
In 2016, BPC entered into a joint venture with an international telecommunications company, Liquid Telecom to become a telecoms network provider. BPC owns and operates optical fibre cable network that is embedded in some of its voltage transmission lines. The partnership was met with resistance from other telecom players especially Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINET), a state owned company. Last year Liquid Telecom Botswana took Botswana Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) to court after the regulator refused to grant them a telecommunication and system license. Asked about the development on the issue, BPC CEO Schwarzfischer was diplomatic on the issue but chose to say they are currently in talks with BOCRA but emphasised that they are continuing with the project.