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Tlou Energy searching for funding

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Tlou Energy searching for funding

Tlou Energy has announced it is in negotiations with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) to provide the initial capital required to start production at its Lesedi Coal Bed Methane (CBM) project.

In an update to stakeholders this week, the company revealed they expect to receive a funding proposal from BDC in the near term.

Tlou is aiming to become the first enterprise to produce gas-fired energy in Botswana.

The two are currently discussing the virtues of BDC providing up to US$30 million (P300 million) to develop the first 10 Megawatts (MW) of the Lesedi Gas-to-Power project, with a minimum of US$10 million (P100 million) required to connect 2MW to the grid.

Tlou further noted it is in discussions with other potential sources of funding should the agreement with BDC not materialise in a timely manner.

It claims to have received expressions of interest from third parties.

In September 2018, Tlou submitted a proposal to government for the development of a CBM Gas-to-Power plant.

It was subsequently selected as the preferred bidder for the project but is still awaiting further progress regarding the negotiations with government.

This led to Tlou admitting progress has been slower than expected, particularly in relation to Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

It, however, hopes the lengthy wait taken to advance a PPA will be resolved soon following the appointment of the new Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi.

Tlou explained the PPA timetable is not under its control but noted it continues to seek progress wherever possible to ensure the project remains on schedule to benefit not only its shareholders, but also the local population.

It is believed the population will profit from the development of a new industry through employment opportunities and a cleaner source of locally produced power, which will result in energy security for Botswana.

In addition to its target of becoming the first producer of Gas-to-Power in Botswana, Tlou is also looking into solar power production.

It is considering the merits in financing a concept of ‘low carbon power bond’.

This is because it is believed that solar energy, which wields strong interest in Botswana, works efficiently when supported by gas-fired base load power.

Besides the existing environmental approval for up to 20MW of gas-fired power generation, Tlou also has approval for up to 20MW of solar power generation.

Email:Kabelo@thevoicebw.com
Twitter:@Kabelo_Adamson

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Battling for booze

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Battling for booze

Liquor industry wants alcohol sale ban lifted

Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) is lobbying for government to follow the example of neighbouring countries and lift the ban on alcohol sales.

Their main reasoning being that citizens who live close to the border may be tempted to sneak out of the country in their desperation to buy liquor. They note this would be detrimental to the economy as well posing a serious health hazard.

The Association Chairman, Mothusi Molokomme told Voice Money they believe the ban – in place since 27 March – should be lifted to allow the public to purchase alcohol and consume it at home.

As much as the main focus is for bottle stores and wholesalers to open for trade, Molokomme revealed they also want bars to be opened, noting they are the only centres of distribution in some of the country’s remoter areas.

He stressed that bars should be allowed to operate on a ‘takeaway’ basis but only after they satisfy Covid-19 prevention protocols.

“The main worry is that there will be loitering around the bars. But it is our belief that operators will strictly adhere to the regulations and allow for takeaways only,” stated Molokomme.

The Chairman pointed to the recent surge in homebrews as indication that the ban should be lifted.

During the period of lockdown, the police have recorded escalating cases of homebrews, which in some instances have even led to the loss of drinkers’ lives.

“There is also a regional factor because South Africa has announced it will be opening next week. Namibia is opening as well and Zambia has always remained opened and because of our porous borders, we may see the illegal coming in of liquor,” continued Molokomme.

He said areas located along the borders of these countries pose a threat to liquor contraband.

While the association advocates for the ban to be lifted, he says as the industry, they will also intensify their message for safer consumption and promote good behaviour among consumers to exercise precautionary measures.

“We are hoping that we will reach an agreement. It will be difficult to convince government when it comes to opening of bars, but we cannot sideline the bars because, in some areas they are the only available points of sale,” reiterated Molokomme, who doubles as the Managing Director of Distell Botswana.

The association was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Peggy Serame this week to map a way forward regarding the sale of alcohol.

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Crafting a new life

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Crafting a new life

The Enterprising Welder Me and My Business

Absorbed and happy in his work as a car mechanic, an unlikely request from a client three years ago changed the course of 35-year-old Bokamoso Selthabi’s life forever.

The self-taught welder now designs and makes various products from metal, including troughs, trailers, cages, kraal fences and other farm implements.

Having initially set-up shop in the North West of South Africa, his home of three years, the Morwa native retraced his steps back to Botswana to continue Bucha Rest Welding.

Recalling the meeting that altered his existence, Setlhabi told Voice Money he was working as a mechanic when a customer asked him to build a trailer for him.

“I made the product for him. After that he brought two more guys wanting my services. From there it grew into a fully-fledged business,” he explained.

“The business has now been running for two years based in South Africa. It is only at the beginning of this year that we relocated to Botswana,” continued the multi-talented craftsman, adding he briefly explored the Namibian market as well.

While he is still new to the local market, with much of that time blanketed by Covid-19 restrictions, Selthabi admits he is yet to reach a point where he can say business is as good as it was in South Africa.

“So far it has been a bit difficult locally. Some of the products that we do like metal kraals are still not highly rated here but we are working hard to market such products as a good alternative to wooden kraals,” he noted, a steely determination evident in his tone.

Setlhabi explained that one of the perceived disadvantages of products like metal kraals is because the metal conducts heat.

However, he points out that this can be overcome by simply applying paint.

“The good thing about it is that it is durable and lasts longer than other materials used to construct kraals,” he highlighted.

Despite the current low uptake of his products, the enterprising welder is optimistic his fortunes will soon turn around.

“It is promising because, when you work with customers who are not used to what you are doing, you have to carry out extensive marketing of your products. We hope when life goes back to normal after the pandemic there will be some improvement,” he said, adding that items such as feeding containers have proved popular and are in demand.

“We also have customers waiting across the country,” he added.

Other challenges – and the one Setlhabi describes as his biggest – is copycats who attempt to duplicate his work ‘but often fail to match my skills’.

“We have social media pages where we post our products. People would want to do exactly the same but often do not succeed because our designs are unique and the quality is top-notch,” said the National Craft Certificate (NCC) holder proudly.

As the business is still at infancy stage, he has engaged one person to assist but hopes as the enterprise grows he will be able to employ more.

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