- MP Greeff worried high capital projects go to foreign companies
- Moagi says power distribution projects are reserved for citizens
Some of the projects undertaken by Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) are of a scale at which local companies are still not capacitated to take, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi, has told Parliament.
He was answering questions from the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone Bonnington South legislator, Christian Greeff, about how many foreign and Batswana companies were registered with BPC for sub-contracts, how many jobs were given to foreign sub-contracts, and what Minister Moagi is doing to ensure that parastatals under his ministry give priority to local companies.
Moagi said BPC undertakes its procurement in line with the new Public Procurement Act and Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) schemes. “Currently there are three transmission projects in progress that are undertaken by three foreign companies as the main contractors and these have engaged 11 citizen-owned companies as sub-contractors,” he said, adding that one of the foreign companies is in a joint-venture with a 100 percent citizen-owned company.
The minister identified the three transmission projects as Lekgotlowane-Ghanzi 220Kv line, which is the remaining component of the North-West Transmission Grid connection Phase One. The second project is the Tlokweng 132/11Kv sub-station and the third one is Mochudi-Phakalane-Gaborone North power supply reinforcement project. “The technical nature and the magnitude of these projects are at a scale that our citizens companies are still being developed to undertake in the near future,” the minister said.
In the distribution works, he explained, only one of a total 69 qualified contractors is a foreign company. “In addition, 12 Batswana consultants are qualified to undertake the distribution small works,” Moagi said, adding that projects under distribution small works are now reserved for citizen-owned companies in accordance with requirements of the new Public Procurement Act. “The new Public Procurement Act requires all my parastatals to request for a waiver for tenders they intend to award to foreign companies where services that are needed cannot be provided by citizen-owned companies,” he stated.
He emphasised that his ministry will grant permission to such requests only after exhausting all applications from citizen companies which may or may not qualify and having assessed and assured itself of the rectitude of the motivation raised. At this point, the newly installed Leader of the Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse, who is also MP for Selebi-Phikwe West, asked the minister if he was satisfied with the amount of money paid to foreign contractors against what is paid to local companies.
“The reason I am asking this is because you may find that even when the number of local contractors is high, the kind of jobs given to them can be considered light with low pay,” Keorapetse said. In answer, Minister Moagi said local companies have overcome their financial and technical challenges to show their capability through associating with the foreign companies. “We have now seen local companies manufacturing transformers and others doing cables and so forth,” he stated. “So this is growth and we are very excited because now more works are being carried out by Batswana.