Water is precious, and clean drinking water is valuable beyond compare. It is easy to lose sight of the value of water when it flows so conveniently from our taps. Yet it is no simple thing to supply more than a dam’s worth of clean drinking water to a thirsty nation. It takes science to figure out where tomorrow’s glass of water is going to come from. Fortunately the men and women of science in Botswana are up for the challenge.
Scientists at the University of Botswana’s chemistry department have explored deeply into the water cleaning properties of the moringa plant. It began in 2010 when a UB lecturer, Dr. Kwaambwa alongside two Swedish scientists published an article in the prestigious American Chemical Society journal. The article detailed the experiments carried out on the moringa plant and the conclusions reached. It was then that it was first brought to light that a protein extract from moringa seeds could be a feasible water treatment solution.
Since then the laboratories have been busy as UB chemists in their goggles and white lab coats sought answers to important questions. Questions like what impurities can the protein remove? How effective is it? Can turbid contaminated water become drinkable through use of moringa seeds alone? The answers were remarkable. Moringa seeds were demonstrated to be able to kill bacteria and clear murky brown water. The ability to clear murky water was attributed to a positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP). When you crush the moringa seeds and add them to water, this protein will kill some of the microbial organisms and cause them to clump together and settle at the bottom of the container.
Though killing bacteria is impressive it does not make moringa seeds an extraordinary water cleaner for home use. It is well known that simply boiling water is good enough to kill harmful bacteria. Two drops of bleach such as jik in one litre of water can also make water safe to drink after allowing it to sit for a couple of days. Evidently, moringa seeds are not unique in their anti-microbial properties. What sets them apart is their ability to remove heavy metals from water, no amount of boiling or jik can remove heavy metals.
A journal article in the Oxford University Press points out that the main threats to human health from heavy metals are associated with lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As). Continuous long-term exposure to those metals even at low concentrations has adverse health effects. The danger is subtle because people who drink contaminated water don’t immediately start falling sick. The toxic metals accumulate over time in their bodies and then years later they do not understand why they are suffering from joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system, nervous system, or even cancer.
Dr. Florence Nareetsile, an inorganic chemist and lecturer at UB was able to demonstrate using specialised analytical equipment that moringa seeds do in fact remove heavy metals. With moringa validated as an all round water cleaning resource the challenge is now to package it in a way which will serve Batswana best. More chemists are needed to continue the research effort. Mr. James Matshwele a recent graduate and teaching assistant at the UB chemistry department says anyone can be a chemist if they are dedicated enough and remember the three important rules of the chemistry lab. “Label clearly, measure twice, and eat elsewhere.”
Though UB chemists have paved the way, others can take up the mantle of creating water cleaning solutions from moringa seeds. Entrepreneurs can invest in development of moringa seed based water filters, businesses could sponsor the research being done, and the people can educate each other and plant moringa trees.
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.
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.
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.