Masisi jets in for desalination plant talks

Maria Hamutenya

Namibia and Botswana are still moving ahead with plans to set up a joint desalination plant at the coast, with President Mokgweetsi Masisi having jetted into the country on Thursday for a one day working visit with President Hage Geingob.

The visit is Masisi’s second visit to the country in two months. Although exact details of the meeting, held behind closed doors, were sketchy, Masisi is said to have been invited by Geingob to meet unnamed investors interested in funding the project, a development confirmed by the Botswana President through his social media.

According to Masisi, Namibia has already started talks with the unnamed investor.
“They have started talks with an investor who is offering to desalinate water from the Atlantic Ocean and supply them. Being a good neighbour and alive to our water challenges, President Geingob invited us to come and meet the investor, and also share thoughts on the project,” said President Masisi.

The Botswana President said although the neighbouring country was in need of water, the country needs to ensure that proper procedures are followed when engaging investors for the project. “We are happy with the prospects because we need the water. However, our ministers and technocrats have to determine what is best for us bearing in mind our governance procedures,” Masisi said.

Namibian Presidential Press Secretary, Alfredo Hengari, said, “the meeting focused on the possibilities of assisting water stressed countries, specifically Botswana, adding that the possibility of desalination is currently on the cards, and so the discussions focused on how Namibia can assist Botswana through sustainable use of the ocean in order to deal with the water needs of Botswana but also Namibia.”

“The relevant committees will study the possibilities of the financial outputs and whatever is required in order to make the dream of strengthened cooperation between Namibia and Botswana a reality.”

The desalination plant talks between the two presidents, follows those by former Botswana President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama when he visited Namibia in 2018.
According to the plans, first mooted a few years back and since under discussions, it is to construct a large desalination plant to supply water to Windhoek and Gaborone, a distance of over 1490 km.

This comes as Namibia has been weighing its options to buy Orano desalination plant at the coast, which can produce 20 million cubic meters of water a year.

A few years ago, Orano offered to sell the desalination plant for a reported US$200 million.

German development agency, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) has provided funding for a feasibility study.

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