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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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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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