Helena Johannes

Government is currently engaged in negotiations with Orano Resources (previously Areva Resources Namibia) over the N$3 billion price tag placed on its desalination water plant, as it renews interest to acquire the facility, Minister of Agriculture Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein has revealed.

The government deal is expected to be carried out through water utility, NamWater, should the parties find common ground.

“It is overpriced and we are not taking up the offer, however we are in the process of negotiating with them for price reduction,” Schlettwein said.

The government renewed interest comes after more than five years after the French mining company notified government of intention to sale the plant, but price concerns have hampered the conclusion of the sale.

The development saw government roping in German consultancy firm Fishner to carry out a due diligence exercise of the Orano facility in 2015.

“We can only buy the desalination water plant at a reasonable price,” he said.

Schlettwein said as Namibia is one of driest countries in the Southern Africa, the desalination water plant will be helpful in the upcoming years and “this is what we are looking at to minimize the issue of scarce clean water in the country.”

The Orano desalination plant was originally built in Swakopmund to supply water to Orano’s Trekkopje mine. It is the first desalination plant to be constructed in southern Africa. It has the capacity to produce 20 million cubic metres of potable water per year with a potential increase capacity to 45 million cubic metres. It currently provides the bulk of drinking water to Swakopmund, as well as nearby uranium mines.

Botswana and Namibia have been linked to plans to partner in the construction of a modern desalination plant to supply water to the two countries.

Desalination involves the removal of salt from seawater and the purification of the water so it can be fit for human consumption.