Let there be light!

Portia Mlilo
BRIGHT FUTURE: A display of how the station will look

Powerful new project underway in Mmambula

The dawn of an electrifying new era sparked tentatively into life in Mmambula on Friday, following the official ground-breaking of the 300MW Jindal Steel and Thermal Power Station.

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With the Indian powerhouse expected to exceed their original US$2 billion (P27 billion) budget for the project, it represents the largest Foreign Direct Investment ever seen in Botswana.

Located on the outskirts of Mmaphashalala village, some 70km south of Mahalapye, the power project’s initial phase is scheduled to take four years to complete, with the station to be up-and-running by the end of 2027.

At this point, it is hoped the plant will generate 300MW, although the plan is for this to eventually be doubled to 600MW, making it the biggest power generator in the country – a title currently held by Morupule B, which has a capacity for 520MW.

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Speaking at Friday’s ceremony, Jindal Steel and Power Chairman, Naveen Jindal said the project is a sign of the company’s commitment to progress and energy sustainability, as well as an enduring partnership with Botswana.

“The doubling of our contract, from 300MW to 600MW, signifies the confidence that you [Botswana government] have placed in our capabilities. We are aware of the magnitude of this undertaking and the responsibility that we bear. As an Independent Power Producer, we acknowledge the profound significance of our role. Our partnership transcends merely supplying electricity. It is about delivering a sustainable source of power that will illuminate homes, energize industries and empower communities,” he declared.

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To this end, Jindal revealed Jindal Energy Botswana is committed to spending P10 million on welfare and development activities in the coming year.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, meanwhile, said such an undertaking was a clear demonstration of the government’s desire to transform Botswana’s energy landscape and ensure self-reliance.

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“A resilient power supply is an enabler for attaining a high income economy. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Jindal and his partners for committing to develop, finance, construct, own, operate, maintain and decommission at the end of its economic life an integrated project,” he said.

Giving a brief overview of what the initiative will involve, Masisi added, “The project comprises of a coal mine and a 300MW power plant under a 30-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC).”

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For his part, Minister of Minerals and Energy, Lefoko Moagi thanked Jindal and co for making the deal possible and choosing Botswana as an investment destination.

Moagi also praised the community near the site for their patience and cooperation so far and asked for this to continue during the construction still to come. He assured them of govt’s commitment to the highest environmental standards to minimize any impact on the surrounding area.

Let there be light!
STRIDING FORWARD: Masisi and Jindal walk side by side
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