Government is set to enter the final stages of negotiations to buy the N$3bn Areva desalination plant in the Erongo Region.
When government embarked on the journey to purchase the desalination plant, its expectations were for the plant to start supplying water by 2016.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), Nehemiah Abraham said in an interview with The Villager this week that the 2016 expectations are possible, reiterating that negotiations are currently underway.
He added that government has drawn its conclusions on the plant, and now it plans to go to Areva for them to give their offer and kick-start the actual price negotiations.
“These negotiations are a win-win game. As Namibians, we are good at criticising, but we do not know that this is not good for the negotiation process,” Abraham stressed.
He stated that the Ministry is unable to divulge any more information to the media because it would put the government’s negotiations at a disadvantage.
“We want to buy the plant at a good price. We are currently visiting the plant on a regular basis to make sure that everything is going well, and before the actual round-table negotiations start.
We even hired consultants who helped government with every aspect of the plant, and they would advise us on how to go about the negotiations,” Abraham noted.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Water Utility’s (Namwater) boss Dr. Vaino Shivute chose to say little on the plant, maintaining that government is the one purchasing it.
“The purchase of the plant is being done by government. We kindly refer you to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry for further information concerning the desalination plant,” he stated.
The desalination plant is situated at Wlotzkasbaken, some 30km north of Swakopmund, and is set to supply water to mines in the Erongo region and to alleviate water shortages in a region which has no perennial rivers.
The plant currently supplies water to the Husab and Rossing Uranium mines, and even if the government buys the plant, these two mines would still be supplied with water.
In addition, the plant has a design capacity of 20 million cubic meters annually. Currently, the Erongo region’s annual demand is at least 11 million cubic meters of water.
Negotiations for the country to acquire the desalination plant started in 2014, after which it would be handed over to the Namwater.
Meanwhile, the Rio Tinto Rossing Uranium Mine plans to construct its own desalination plant, but must first carry out an environmental impact analysis for their planned plant.
The plant will have the capacity to supply 3 million cubic meters of water, which is more than the mine’s yearly consumption of 2 million cubic meters.
Earlier in the year, the mine concluded the bankable feasibility study, and in addition also applied for an environmental impact licence from the government.
Rossing Uranium Limited’s Managing Director Werner Duvenhage confirmed that the company has not yet received the environmental impact licence it applied for from government.
He noted that the company decided to construct its own plant because water in the country is expensive.
The country is currently experiencing water shortages, with government resorting to strict measures to stem the situation.
Duvenhage reiterated that if government happens to conclude its deal of purchasing the desalination plant from Areva, then they will halt their plans of constructing a desalination plant.
“We do not want our own desalination plant, but currently water in the country is extremely expensive, and we want more affordable water.
If Namwater can supply us with water, then it is fine. Once we receive the licence, we can get all the detail pertaining to the construction of the plant, and in turn make the final decision,” Duvenhage added.
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue