Power utility, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) last Friday announced a watershed project that will completely reshape the local electricity and power supply situation.
The North West Transmission Grid (NWTG) is among government’s biggest infrastructure projects, valued at P4.6 billion and aims to extend the transmission grid to the North West, Chobe and Gantsi Districts. When deliberating on the project at the contract signing ceremony at the Gaborone International Convention Centre(GICC) last Friday, Botswana Power Corporation Chief Executive Officer Dr Stefan Schwarzfischers said the NWTG was an investment totaling to P4.6 Billion by the Government of Botswana implemented by his corporation.
Schwarzfischer said the project was one of the biggest infrastructure developments by Government amongst others like the Mohembo and Kazungula bridges. The Transmission Grid will be implemented in two phases and it is expected to create over 2000 jobs during the construction stage with about 81% of the engaged labour being local citizens, and around 8000 permanent jobs in various sectors of the economy once the project has been completed. “We also anticipate existing business from logistics, hospitality and SMEs grown and some to be birthed in the North Western region of this country,” he said.
The CEO explained that the transmission line will provide grid access to all factors of the economy being mining, tourism, commercial farming and further improve the quality of electricity supply in the country and most importantly in the north western district. “This will position the region which is a transport hub, gateway to the coast as well as rich in tourism, farming and, as lucrative investment hub for different economic value chains,” said Schwarzfischer.
He added that the project will give BPC an opportunity to reduce dependence on power import from Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia as they will have the infrastructure to meet local power demand and also play an economic role of exporting power from Botswana to the SADC region through the Southern Africa power pool market.
“This signing of contracts for the construction and commission of phase 1 of the project between BPC and 3 international contractors phase is valued at 1.3 billion pula and the phase 2 is allocated another 1.2 billion,” explained Schwarzfischer. He noted that the three contractors were all international companies because locally Botswana was limited in terms of suppliers with skills and expertise in high voltage material and infrastructure development.
”The companies has been solely evaluated according to BPC and PPADB procurement standards and we are satisfied that they will deliver on the expectation of the project given the wealth of skills, technical competencies and tangible evidence of their previous work,” he said .
According to the BPC Phase 1 of the project has been divided into nine stages and each one of the three contractors will undertake three stages. The decision, according to the power corporation was a cautious one made to balance capacity and ensure efficient implementation of the project.
“I am therefore confident to declare to you that the phase 1 will commence from January 2018 and run through to December 2019,” the BPC said further highlighting that the phase will start from Palapye Morupule to Maun then from Maun to Shakawe and connect to Ghanzi. “We will establish a 400 000 waltz back bone transmission, high voltage line.”
Phase 2 of the North West Transmission Grid will be implement from August 2018 and is expected to be completed by October 2020. BPC said it is urgently evaluating the tenders for this phase and should conclude the process by January 2018 and the signing ceremony with successful bidder will be also held publicly.
This second phase will extend the 400kb bridge, starting from Selibe Phikwe to Kasane. The chief Executive Officer of the national power supplier said BPC will increase its human resource capacity including training of stuff over the next 2 years to cater for operations and maintenance to ensure reliable power supply when the grid is fully operational. “We are also here to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Ministry of Minerals and Khoemacau copper mining as we will provide 30 megawatts to the mine and the mine will create employment to 900 people,” concluded the BPC Boss
Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.
WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.
Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.
This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time. The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.
“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.
According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.
The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.
Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.
According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.
According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.
Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.
Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.
Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.
The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.
According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.
“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.
According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.
“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.
According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.
Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.
“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.
High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.