An oil deal is expected on the agenda of Botswanan President Ian Khama's West African tour set to begin on Tuesday to Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.
The Southern African country has in the past 12 months faced occasional fuel shortages and the government has made it clear to reduce the country's perilous dependence on neighboring South Africa for fuel.
Following another fuel shortage caused by a pipe breakdown in December last year, Botswana's Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources announced plans to secure alternate sources of fuel with Mozambique, Namibia and Nigeria and being probable targets. Minister Ponatshego Kedikilwe has already negotiated with Mozambique for a possible supply in the near future.
Khama recently visited Mozambique to seal the deal that would see Botswana importing five million cubic meters of fuel per year.
Reached for comment on the probable oil deal, the head of Chancery at the Nigeria High Commission in Gaborone, Moses Adeoye, said they hope the visit by Khama will add momentum to the negotiations that started between the two countries last year when Botswana sent a delegation to Nigeria.
A delegation from the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources was in Nigeria last year to assess the viability of sourcing oil from the country. Even though he could not commit to the deal being on the pipeline, Adeoye said it is very likely as Nigeria is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa while Botswana on the other hand is an oil importer.
For his part, Botswana government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay could not reveal anything on the President's visit to Nigeria except to acknowledge that indeed the President will be visiting West Africa.
Ramsay however said the issue of the oil deal might come up during the visit. Khama's visit follows the arrival of Nigeria's new High Commissioner to Botswana Okubotin Charles Cocodia who expressed optimism on the fuel deal when presenting his letters of credence last week.