BOTSWANA – The governments of Namibia and Botswana have virtually signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) for the implementation of their 5,000 MWp mega solar project.

Both countries have already received support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (BIRD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as the US government’s Power Africa initiative.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed between Namibia, Botswana and the international financial institutions comes just days after the signing of a first agreement, also via video conference.

These agreements will allow the pre-feasibility studies for this clean energy mega-project to begin.

Botswana’s Deputy Permanent Secretary for Mineral Resources, Energy Security and Green Technology, Nchena Mothebe, estimates that the initial studies will cost 20 million Botswana Pulas, or US$1.84 million.

According to Mothebe, financial partners joining the project are expected to contribute to the funding of these studies, which will help estimate the overall cost of the mega-project.

For its development, the authorities of the two countries will also benefit from the financial support of the new partners, notably the AfDB, Bird, Power Africa and the IFC, the World Bank subsidiary responsible for financing the private sector.

At this stage of the project, the IFC’s involvement means that the solar complex will be open to investment by independent power producers (IPPs) and the future facility will boost the capacity of the national electricity grids of Namibia and Botswana.

Part of the output will be sold to countries in the sub-region through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), a cooperation mechanism between national power companies in Southern Africa.

SAPP is an initiative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The first phase of the project could be subject to a call for tenders of 300 MWp to 500 MWp to meet the domestic demand of the two countries while the second phase is planned to produce between 500 MWp and 1,000 MWp.

A third and final phase will allow the construction of solar parks that will provide 1,000 MWp to 3,000 MWp.

The collaboration between Namibia and Botswana has been welcomed by many observers, especially since the two countries are not at their first major sustainable development project.

They are also negotiating for the construction of a largeseawater desalination plant in WalvisBay in Namibia.

The installation will provide drinking water to the Namibian capital Windhoek and Gaborone, the headquarters of institutions in Botswana and for this other project, the two countries are already receiving support from the German development agency Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

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