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Botswana’s water and energy sectors extremely poor – report

The Political Economy Analysis Energy and Water Sectors Report says Botswana has a poor service provision in water and energy sectors, saying the transition from Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation to Water Utilities Corporation perceived to have not been well planned.

According to the report, some villages perceived to be worse-off under the current arrangement. Political economy analysis is concerned with the interaction of political and economic processes in a society, the distribution of power and wealth between different groups and individuals as well as the processes that create, sustain and transform these relationships over time. 

The study aims to situate development intervention within an understanding of the prevailing political and economic processes in society- specifically, the incentives, relationships, and distribution and contestation of power between different groups and individuals. In 2016, the then President Ian Khama said universal access to energy and water is a major strategy of the regional leadership for transforming socio-economic wellbeing of the region’s citizenry. He said energy and water are critical ingredients to the SADC region’s efforts aimed at advancing economic development, regional integration and poverty reduction strategies.

The report reiterated that water supply in Botswana is made up of international rivers at 49%, while dams score sits at 42% and ground water as well as recycled water are at 8% and 1% respectively. Water demand is forecast to reach 285.8 cubic mega metres a year by 2030, whereas demand was only 193.4 mega metres 19 years ago. The national per-capita consumption has remained generally unchanged at 0.15 cubic metres.

Botswana government strategy-universal access to drinking water by all citizens says all urban households have access to drinking water sources at 100%, and half of rural households have access to drinking water sources at 90%, a growing proportion of households have water inside their yard and house. The report also indicated that sanitation facility access rate is 85% of the total population. However, Botswana has domestic water access compared to many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, Botswana has high variability of annual run-off related to highly variable rainfall patterns, and most surface water resources are subjected to the SADC protocol on shared water courses, shared in a fair, equitable and sustainable way with other countries. The report also said Botswana has limited groundwater resources, and high variations in recharge rates saline groundwater in large parts of western and northern Botswana and escalating domestic, urban and peri-urban water demand.

 It was indicated that stakeholder and private sector participation is also a barrier, as the involvement of the private sector or civil society in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of water supply systems is relatively low. Further, end users have limited role in policy formulation. Thermal energy for household applications has no established institution for promoting these applications, the report said.

The report underlined that there is no availability variety of appliances, no supply chain established and no promotion of local manufacturing job creation. Households and end users do not have financing to acquire appliances and are not convinced about utility of appliances.
Government of Botswana does not have control over harvesting of fuel wood, and appliances may not be adapted enough to meet cultural requirements, it said.

The report identified gaps and barriers in the power sector, saying there is no standard power purchases agreement, renewable energy feed in tariffs only cater for small capacities, no mandatory framework for energy audits and management. The country is also said to be have no dedicated RE/EE institutions-tendency for uncoordinated planning.

As for the supply chain, capacity of grid to connect RE has not been established, and there are high costs of RE and EE appliances, no local manufacturing of RE technologies and low appreciation of RE benefits both from long terms cost benefits and clean energy. It was also shared that connection grid by consumers still unaffordable for the low income groups.

Green energy sector also has many gaps, the report established. Government has no established potential demand to warrant policy, and there is limited institutional support for focusing on productive use of modern energy. As for the supply chain, there are no well-established technology suppliers, designers, installers and maintenance capacity. The report also said there are high landed costs and no local manufacturing of some systems.

End users do not have focused credit financing for productive uses, high upfront costs, cost and benefits are not well communicated, small systems and high transaction costs are some of the barriers households come across within the green energy sector, the report said.
Moreover, the report indicated that the policies are generally top-down and not fully address the right to energy and water as human rights. It said there is lack of energy policy, as current policy has been at draft stage since 2015. The absence of the policy, it said, decried to limit the opining up of the sector of individual power generators especially with regard to renewable energy.

The report recommended that there is a need to establish a political contract around energy and water-issue-based politics. Making energy and water a more prominent political priority is also critical, and this can be made through strengthened awareness raising, education and communication on energy and water issues, which receives inadequate attention in Botswana.

The political contract can also be made possible through the identification and support of reform champions within government who would be prepared to champion energy and water at higher political levels, as well as evidence based and credible research through local research institutions to influence government and the building of citizen campaigns, to redefine political obligations around energy and water supply.

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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