Botswana plans to add 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity to its national grid in the next six years as the diamond rich country battles to address power supply shortages, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Boikobo Paya, Permanent Secretary in the Energy Ministry, said that in addition to the 600 MW power station to be commissioned in 2012, two other 300 MW power stations to be built by Independent Power Producers (IPP) should kick into the national grid by 2017/18.

"On top of the Morupule B power station which will add 600 MW to national supply next year, we expect a brownfield power station consisting of two 150 MW units to be built through IPPs by 2015/16," Paya told an energy conference.

He added: "Another 300 MW greenfield power station is also expected to be built by independent producers by 2017/18."

Botswana has only one power station, Morupule A plant, which produces 120 MW, with the remainder of its power needs, about 80 percent, being imported mainly from South Africa.

The first phase of $1.5 billion Morupule B power station is expected to be commissioned by March 2012.

In anticipation of the higher demand for coal from the power plants, plans are under way to increase production at the country's only coal mine, Morupule Colliery, from 1.2 million tones per annum to 2.8 million tonnes.

Botswana has coal reserves estimated at 212 billion tones, but only one operating mine. Three companies, CIC Energy, African Energy and Aviva Corporation, have expressed intentions to open new mines for both local use and exports.

Government officials said at the conference that there are currently 190 coal and coal bed methane prospecting licences issued to 43 companies, mostly from Australia and China.


GABORONE, (Reuters)

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