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Prepaid meters: WUC benchmarks in Israel

Gov’t wants water prepaid metres full swing, WUC officials worried it is not best option

The Government has dispatched a team of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) staff on a benchmarking exercise to Israel. The team is tasked with exploring  on the impending implementation of domestic water prepaid meters locally.

The benchmarking mission to Israel follows government’s proposal to the parastatal (WUC) to go full swing on domestic customer prepaid metres.

Weekend Post has established that following Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Mokaila’s visit to Israel, he found out that the country has valuable lessons that “we can learn from in prepaid metering and water conservation.” Israel in particular is regarded as a role model, among others, in terms of water resource management in the world.  

The MMEWR Minister’s earlier visit to the country involved signing bilateral agreements with the country during the official visit as well as informing the current benchmarking exercise.

Kitso Mokaila confirmed in a brief interview with Weekend Post on Thursday this week that indeed they are “exploring both prepaid and smart water metres for water management” in Botswana. The Minister added that already he had a team which travelled to South Africa for the matter and “I have the same team going to Israel to explore possibilities.”

An immaculate source at the high echelons of the WUC also pointed out that: “we are currently engulfed by customers’ unwillingness to pay their water bills and prepaid metres are seen as a solution in collecting money first and effective in water conservation as it naturally cuts costs.”

Some countries which are currently using prepaid water meters include Brazil, Curacao, Egypt, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, the Philippines, Uganda, and the United States.

In Botswana prepaid metres have only been used in public stand pipes and the government is involved in establishing the potentials of enrolling the prepaid metres at homes across the country.

To prove the commitment of government with respect to water prepaid metres, the water utilities called on some Contractors to submit expressions of interests (EOIs) and company details for the installation of prepaid water meter systems and automated meter reading (AMR) water consumption meters at its sixteen (16) management centers that are spread across all villages and towns in Botswana.

Although the evaluation of the tender documents, which was closed on March earlier this year, is not yet completed sources say the MMEWR minister and by extension the government are both adamant to forge ahead with the implementation of the prepaid metres come rain or sunshine.  

Weekend Post has gathered that some in the utility corporation who are against the prepaid metres advised government that if they go the prepaid route, they should tread with caution as it is not as easy as with regard to electricity prepaid metres. The source said water prepaid metres are a problem and there are less success stories especially in the African continent. “Therefore due diligence in handling it has to be exercised,” he warned.

A study from the World Bank Group’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) analyzed the experience of 8 African cities: Kampala, Lusaka, Maputo, Maseru, Mogale City, Nakuru, Nairobi, and Windhoek, using prepaid meter systems and found out that prepaid water remains controversial.

“Proponents see it as a way to improve customer relations, revenue, and access to services; critics complain about technical unreliability, high capital and maintenance costs, and a system they see as penalizing poor customers,” the study posits.

Because the technology is relatively expensive, the study says it does not absolve service providers from sound financial choices and management, such as charging economic tariffs, or policymakers from thinking seriously about how to finance subsidies for the poor.

The study which was authored by Chris Heymans, Kathy Eales and Richard Franceys states that prepaid metering demands robust regulation beyond the current tendency of regulators to treat it as something experimental and marginal. “Perhaps most powerful of all is the message that prepaid water is ultimately a technology: it is not intrinsically pro- or anti-poor, and it is not a substitute for sound management,” the study asserts.  

The study maintains that prepaid water is not a miracle cure. “It is not obviously costeffective for the provider; it has not been consistently reliable; and it comes with substantial demands on management.”

The report aims to be both frank and objective in its message that prepaid systems do not offer a miracle cure and that unless utilities do careful assessments and get effective management systems in place, they may well find themselves swapping one set of problems for another.

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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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