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65 000 rural households to benefit from solar power

At least 88 rural villages in the country have been benefitted from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sponsored solar power programme changing the lives of families whose households are now electrified and saving the environment from deforestation.

On completion the UNDP programme is expected to assist 65 000 poor households across Botswana with clean and sustainable energy access.  Villagers whose homes have been solar-powered are now able to use heating systems and lighting appliances, and household chores have significantly been reduced.

Most people rural communities where 80 per cent of households use firewood for cooking, lighting and heating their homes have been targeted to benefit from the programme.  The use of firewood for daily chores is one of the key drivers leading to the massive destruction of the country’s forests. In Kgope, a remote village some 50 kilometres west of Gaborone, the Mokgatlhe family is one of the beneficiaries of the programme and it has changed their lives overnight.  Mrs Mokgatlhe said her children were now able to study and retire for bed on time.

“It is a changed world for them.  They even spend more time reading and finishing their school work these days,” Mrs Mokgatlhe’s husband chipped in. The Mokgatlhe family hopes to soon purchase a television and radio, something they had not dreamt of owning due to lack of electricity.

The UNDP Rural Electrification Programme is also being spearheaded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government and it is aimed at equipping villagers with solar powered photovoltaic instead of using paraffin and firewood for lighting. The GEF administers several trust funds and provides secretariat services in 39 donor dependent countries.

According to the UNDP, the programme is a response to the Botswana Government’s call for the use of alternative fuels and reducing of carbon emissions.  It mainly targets poor and female-run households, offering them with efficient energy devices at affordable prices. “As part of the programme's pilot phase, solar-powered heating systems and lighting appliances were introduced to some 88 villages that are off the country's main electricity grid. In Kgope village, the local development committee is running an energy kiosk that sells solar lanterns, wood-saving stoves and hot bags – specially designed bags that keep food warm and thereby reduce cooking time on stoves,” the UNDP said.

It said in addition to preserving the country's forests by reducing the need for firewood, the solar-power programme was saving women and girls valuable time. “The wood-saving stove, for example, cooks a four-person meal with only a kilogramme of firewood – thereby reducing the time needed for firewood collection – and the hot bags reduce cooking time overall,” said UNDP.

It added that the pilot phase of the programme would be used to resolve any minor problems before it is replicated throughout the country and integrated into the national electrical grid and in the process promoting renewable energy use throughout Botswana. The project will also help in reducing the degree of deforestation and minimise the amount of carbon emissions arising from the use of fossil fuels for lighting and cooking purposes.  It will promote the development of sustainable small businesses and creation of employment in areas where such opportunities are generally non-existent.

Recently, the Government launched a call for tenders for two solar projects that should allow 100MW to be fed into the national grid.  The closing date for this call for expression of interest was for September 11 this year, but it has since been postponed to September 27.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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