NamPower sued over N$100m solar power deal – The Namibian

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NamPower sued over N$100m solar power deal - The Namibian
NamPower sued over N$100m solar power deal - The Namibian

Africa-PressNamibia. SHINOVENE IMMANUEL and TIMO SHIHEPOA PRIVATE company has dragged NamPower to court over a failed solar power plant deal that was expected to cost around N$100 million.

The project had the potential to generate revenue of over N$700 million in 25 years.The company, Erongo Diagram Investments, signed a contract on 10 November 2015 with NamPower but the power corporation discarded the deal later.This left the company fuming.Erongo Diagram Investments is owned by businessperson Pangwa Gabriel and lawyer Rodgers Kauta, who each own 50% of the company. Details of the fallout between Erongo Diagram Investments and NamPower are contained in court documents filed by the two parties since November 2018.Solar power is a key part of president Hage Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan II (HPP II) economic revival package. The solar aspect, which aims to produce 135 MW from solar projects, is implemented by NamPower and the energy ministry.NamPower does this by buying electricity from independent solar power producers through the renewable energy feed-in tariff programme (REFIT).There has been a rise in solar power investments. Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi announced in parliament this year that NamPower plans to invest around N$10 billion in the next three years into solar, and wind power generation over the next five years.“This would boost the provision of affordable and reliable domestic power generation and improve the balance of payments,” he said.This scheme appears to have been hijacked by politically connected businesspeople.ERONGO DIAGRAM VS NAMPOWERErongo Diagram Investments’ court challenge provides more details about the scramble among Namibia’s politically connected individuals to clinch solar power deals at NamPower.In court papers, Gabriel said their company was part of an initial 14 companies that wanted to benefit from the solar power deals in 2015.As part of the deal, Erongo Diagram Investments would set up a five-megawatt plant at Farm Groot Quinta in the Omaheke region to supply solar energy to NamPower. It appears several companies connected to politicians were squeezed into the selection process. Later, Erongo Diagram Investments was told that the prospective companies had increased from 14 to 27.“Which meant an additional (new) 14 independent power producers (IPPs) were suddenly in the REFIT programme,” Gabriel said in his court documents.EXCLUDED Erongo Diagram Investments has been excluded from the solar panel deals.Gabriel said this happened despite having signed an agreement with NamPower, represented by managing director Simson Haulofu, on 10 November 2015. He said they will prove that they provided NamPower with all the information needed on time, compared to some of the 14 new companies that did not finalise financial guarantees.Gabriel declined to comment when approached for comment this week. He said the matter is in court. Erongo Diagram Investments, through its lawyers Engling, Stritter & Partners, challenged NamPower’s decision to exclude it from the solar power deals. The lawyers are accusing NamPower of refusing to permit Erongo Diagram Investments to provide electricity to the power utility, despite signing an agreement. The lawyers are now seeking the court to declare that the agreement the two parties entered is binding and enforceable. They have also asked the court to declare that Erongo Diagram Investments and NamPower entered both agreements with or without signatures. Erongo Diagram Investments is asking NamPower to pay damages at 20% interest rate until such time the utility allows the private energy company to be part of the project.“In fact, nobody was entitled to exclude Erongo Diagram Investments from the project as it qualified, in that it complied with all its obligations. In addition, it is qualified because it was part of the first 14 applicants who were covered by the first come, first [served] principle,” the lawyers said in court papers. NAMPOWERHaulofu insisted this week that NamPower has no contractual relationship with Erongo Diagram Investments.He told The Namibian that the power utility followed “a solicited approach” to buy energy from all independent power producers. He said this is done in terms of the Public Procurement Act, and Erongo Diagram Investments is no exception.He also denied allegations that companies connected to politicians were squeezed into the project. “This is not correct,” he said. He added that NamPower is guided by the set procurement procedures to contract with any company that has met the set requirements. “Erongo Diagram Investments have been part of this transparent process, it wasn’t a biased process, and Erongo Diagram Investments can verify that,” he said. “NamPower is committed to ensuring security of electricity supply and working with the regulator, Electricity Control Board, to ensure private participation through a solicited approach,” he said. HPP II pins its hopes on green energy production to drive Namibia’s economic recovery plans.“The solar resource is one of the world’s best and wind resources are also excellent,” the Harambe report issued this year said.

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