THE Botswana government has for many years sought to diversify its economy from diamonds which accounted for 27% of GDP in 2015, about $4.4bn worth. One of the options is coal, but the country’s efforts have tended to stop there because it’s too expensive to export coal while cooperation with South Africa to use it as a fuel for baseload power has proved elusive. Just ask CIC Energy, the Canadian coal development firm that wanted to sell electricity from Botswana. It had to abandon negotiations with Eskom after what seemed an aeon. The game-changer, however, was load-shedding in South Africa in 2010. This is where former investment banker, Mashale Phumaphi comes in. His Mauritius-listed Shumba Energy is hoping to take advantage of reforms that will allow Eskom to purchase power from cross-border independent power producers (IPPs). Phumaphi has been scouting for funds for Shumba’s proposed $1bn, 300MW to 600MW Mabesekwa IPP, a 3.2 million tonnes a year coal-to-power venture. More recently, Phumaphi has also taken a interest in exporting coal from the firm’s Sechaba project, a possibility helped by availability of up to two million tonnes a year of export entitlement through the Matola coal export terminal in Mozambique. Early in 2017, the company signed an offtake agreement with Bergbau Africa.
LIFE OF MASHALE
Bleak winters in the UK where he was working as an investment banker, and the realisation that it might be more fun to do the mining, took Mashale into Shumba Energy. He began his career as an engineer for Debswana Diamond Company at its Jwaneng mine. Mashale has a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Sheffield and is a member of the United Kingdom Society of Investment Professionals.
“There’s a realisation with the government that diamonds aren’t forever.”
- Web Address: www.shumbaenergy.com