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No impending water war in the Okavango Basin

The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) has stated that the Okavango Basin is safe from water obstructions upstream in Angola and Namibia.

Addressing members of media at Maun Lodge on Friday last week OKACOM officials reiterated that there is no significant diversion of water upstream in Angola and Namibia along the Okavango River that could lead to an environmental disaster and water wars between the three partner countries.

Dr Eben Chonguica, OKACOM Executive Secretary, warned that journalists need to verify their facts on this issue adding that issues relating to national sovereignty are sensitive as individual countries have rights to use waters within their boundaries. He noted that internationally there are sentiments that Water will cause wars in future between countries but said so far no recorded war has been caused by water globally.  He said OKACOM as a technical advisory body strives to ensure a peaceful shared commitment to water management in the Cubango-Okavango river basin.

Deputy Director in the Department of Water Affairs, Tracy Molefi noted that there has been ‘insinuations’ particularly in Botswana about alleged water diversions upstream of the Okavango which threatens the future of the Okavango Delta. “She said such reports are untrue and can potentially damage shared efforts towards transboundary resource management in the Okavango River basin shared by Botswana, Namibia and Angola. She said: if such untrue reports continue we run the risk of destroying the cooperation which exists for transboundary conservation.”

Principal Curator in the Department of Museums Gertrude Matswiri noted that unfounded reports about water obstructions are a problem even to the international community. She said: “as you know the Okavango Delta has been inscribed as UNESCO world heritage site. Such reports have in the past caused unnecessary alarm to our international partners.”

In 2007, OKACOM conducted a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA,) a scientific and technical assessment of the shared management issues and problems, both existing and emerging of the Okavango Basin. The TDA prioritized issues and conducted analysis to identify the scale and distribution of potential environmental and socio-economic impacts at national, regional and global levels, therefore identifying potential remedial actions. The identified issues were reduction in Okavango waters flow, changes in water quality and distribution due to factors such as climate change, land use patterns and population growth along the basin. 

CUBANGO-OKAVANGO RIVER BASIN STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN

As a solution, the United Nations Development Programme through the Global Environment Facility has funded OKACOM to implement the Cubango-Okavango River Basin Strategic Action Plan aimed at addressing problems identified by the TDA.
Project manager, Dr Nkobi Moleele said the objective of the project is to strengthen the joint management and cooperative decision making capacity of the Cubango-Okavango River basin states on the optimal utilization of natural resources in the basin, with the aim to support the socio-economic development of the basin communities while sustaining the health of the basin ecosystems.

The project has three components; component 1: Basin Development Management Framework strengthening, Component 2: Environmentally Conscious Livelihoods and Socio-Economic Development Demonstration Projects and the third component being the Integrated Water Resource Management.

Dr Chonguica said through the joint monitoring programmes developed by the project, member countries will have a strategy of collaboration on the sharing of the water resources.  He said one of the projects they have already undertaken is the OKACOM joint Water Quality and Quantity Baseline Survey. He added that through observing water quality and quantity in the basin over time they hope to put up a strategic action plan for conservation and upliftment of the living standards of the communities along the basin.

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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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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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