The issue of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s monopoly on the energy sector came to the fore once again at a public hearing organised by Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA), at which BPC was seeking permission to increase its tariffs by five percent in 2021/22 and a further four percent in 2022/23.
The BPC request comes after a 22 percent increment this year. When giving opening remarks at the public hearing, BERA Chief Operations Officer (COO), Duncan Morotsi, explained that the Authority draws its mandate to determine electricity tariffs from the BERA Act.
He further said BERA is empowered to define the methodology to be used when calculating tariffs while taking into account the need to protect the interests of customers and consumers. “When exercising these functions, BERA may conduct a public hearing where it considers necessary, as is the case today,” said Morotsi.
However, private sector representatives who took to the podium at the hearing repeatedly complained about BPC’s firm grip on the energy sector, saying the industry must be liberalised to allow all players to participate in the energy value chain.
Gabaake Gabaake – Executive Director of coal bed methane outfit, Tlou Energy, called for further liberalisation of the energy sector to allow Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to generate and sell electricity.
“There is need for further de-regulation of the electricity market in Botswana to allow for stand-alone generation, distribution and supply operations,” he said.
Gabaake added that unbundling BPC will enhance competition and derive additional benefits like better prices and services. Further, said Gabaake, a liberalised energy sector will enable Botswana to drive its national aspirations of economic transformation and becoming a knowledge-based economy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
For his part, Charles Siwawa from Botswana Chamber of Mines said it was time for BPC to remodel itself in order to ensure cost cutting and improve efficiencies.
“After 50 years in existence, it has become clear that BPC is too big. We need to liberate some of its operations like distribution, transmission and supply and delegate them to the private sector,” said Siwawa.
While he reiterated BPC’s commitment to assisting IPPs to increase Botswana’s generation capacity, Acting CEO Edward Rugoyi said the Corporation was against allowing IPPs to sell to the market.
“We believe IPPs must be assisted to generate power and sell directly to BPC, not to the market,” he said.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.