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No Water: Investors directed north

Gaborone dam and Molatedi dam have been declared failed projects by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC)

Potential investors in the mining sector this week paid a courtesy visit to Botswana to solicit information on the business environment – in particular whether it’s currently conducive for conducting copper mining, WeekendPost can reveal.


This publication has gathered that the investors, who visited this country through a consultancy, want to set up a mining venture by processing copper into final products as it has been exported to other countries while raw.


It is understood that Business Botswana, formerly Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) facilitated their business visit as they viewed it as local investment opportunity despite the country going through water and power crises.

This publication has established that the investors will henceforth weigh their options of investing after gathering first hand and sufficient information on water as well as power conditions in the country.


“Yes it is true Business Botswana brought the investors here, and basically they are doing preliminary investigations in terms of trying to establish the business environment in Botswana especially with regard to the water state of affairs,” a highly classified source at Water Utilities revealed this week, while preferring not to mention the consultancy or names of the investors.


According to the top official, the investors want to establish where they can position the mining venture in terms of water status. The investors are said to have also come to meet different stakeholders like Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), Mining companies, Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) among others; as they try to explore chances of investment.


“We need to give them facts in this regard. We need to tell them the truth about the current situation we are facing as well as how we are stabilizing the water situation,” the WUC highly placed source indicated.

“So in our view what matters is where they place their investment. If they intend to place it in the south for sure they will face difficulties as severe water crises is felt in the south.”

He said if government is to attract investors, it needs to inject more funds into various projects by Water Utilities so as to help improve the water situation, and at the same time bridging the unemployment gap.


According to the source, funding either from government, loans or private sector remains a big issue in the matter as the corporation continuously tries to lure them to invest in the water sector so as to implement their projects line up and ultimately reach water security. The country has been plunged with a worsening water crises situation and last week it reached an all-time low level – a predicament the immaculate source who sits in the Corporation executive confesses.


According to a WUC statement, Bokaa dam has almost dried up following Gaborone dam which has absolutely dried up at the moment.

“Bokaa dam is currently at 3.5% and might fail at any time. The failure of Bokaa dam will translate into reduced supply as well as a loss of one more source of water for the Greater Gaborone area, following the failure of Gaborone dam – which dried up completely in December 2014,” WUC Corporate Communications Manager Matida Mmipi said in a statement released last week.

As a result, Mmipi states that, with effect from today (Saturday), water rationing days will be intensified from three to four days a week in Gaborone – a move the investors might find arduous for business.


Currently, she said, the Greater Gaborone area’s sources of water are the Bokaa dam, Molatedi dam (also on line to dry up) and the North South Carrier 1 (NSC 1) which transfers water from Dikgatlhong dam to the South. Bokaa dam currently produces 19 million litres a day and NSC 1 harvests 60 million litres a day while Molatedi dam churns out 9.7 million litres per day.

However the Greater Gaborone area’s average water demand is said to be standing at 125 million litres a day. This therefore means the area is running on a water deficit of 37.7 million litres a day and this is expected to drop further, due to the anticipated close down of Bokaa in a few weeks.  
In addition, and as a matter of fact, the source told Weekend Post that Bokaa dam is virtually considered failed and Molatedi dam is going down loose as well. “To tell you the truth our hopes are now on rainfall – that is where we can get the water,” he pointed out.

Apart from that he hinted that they put their last hope on the Masama West Well-fields project which is on the offing but would take almost 12 months to be operational. Masama project, which is currently being tested, will augment water to the Greater Gaborone area, and when fully functional it will inject 30 million litres into the NSC 1 a day to water Greater Gaborone area. Masama is 100km from Gaborone en-route Francistown.


Meanwhile NSC 1 which transmits water from the second largest dam, Dikgatlhong, after Gaborone dam feeds the northern part of the country, and additionally augments the south in the current arrangement. In the south the water crises is attributed to flat land and high rate of evaporation.

It is also understood that NSC 1 was never implemented to solve the water problem in the south completely but to augment it, as Greater Gaborone cannot rely on dams from the north as they will eventually dry up, even faster, too.


Information gathered also suggests that Water Utilities is looking for a fourth pump station to push more water to the South with more pressure. With more water in the pipeline, there is likelihood of a breakdown and the fourth pump would serve as back up (spare). The simple logic is that when one pump is down the other would be running.


Although the pipelines used for NSC 1 are said to be of sub-standard material, the project is fully built and now functional. “The Pipelines materials are not exactly what we wanted, we needed steel,” the immaculate source highlighted.

Currently, there is an ongoing project to replace the entire 26 km pipeline as there are already a number of leaks (around 7 to 8) in it. “These leaks cannot be repaired, the repair would take longer as water would have to be drained out of the pipeline (and it’s huge) followed by excavation and then the repairing, so the whole pipeline needs to be replaced. That is why this project is running parallel to the pipeline.”

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