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P500 million unleashed to keep BPC afloat

In the next financial year 2021/22 which begins 1st of April, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) will receive P500 million from government aimed at subsidizing the corporation to continue providing the nation with electricity at “affordable rates.”

This was revealed by Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security Lefoko Maxwell Moagi in Parliament on Wednesday. Moagi was presenting to lawmakers and seeking approval of his ministry’s budget proposal for the financial year 2021/22. This P500 million cash injection into BPC represents 56% of the Ministry’s development budget.

Moagi explained that the money will be allocated to the Botswana Power Corporation Tariff Support programme to cushion the corporation against non-cost reflective tariffs as well as meet the payment for the ICBM loan.

BPC which owns and operates power generation assets, distribution infrastructure, nationwide grids and consumer vending services has been struggling to recover costs for years, resulting in heavy dependence on government for operating capital.

Over the years government has been injecting between P500 million to P800 million and even up to billions of Pulas annually to support the corporation so as to avoid transferring costs to the consumer in the form on increased tariffs.

However, of recent, due to budget constraints, it has emerged that Government cannot take it anymore. Last year March, Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) approved electricity tariffs increment of 22% in a bid to help BPC recover its costs. The increase as explained by BERA last year was to ensure tariffs are cost reflective, affordable and appropriately priced, noting that the rate was and still is one of the lowest amongst countries in the region without hydropower.

BPC has made operating losses for years due to high import costs, non-performing assets and operational inefficiencies, making it reliant on government subsidies to stay afloat. But notably the corporation has been making efforts in reducing and containing its costs as part of turnaround strategies that have seen operational losses fall from P2 billion in 2015 to P72 million in 2019.

Government subsidies have gradually reduced from a peak of P2.3 billion in 2015 to P800 million in 2019. Following the 22% tariffs hike last year March, BPC has submitted another tariff increase proposal to BERA for consideration. A public hearing has already been held where BPC defended its proposal before BERA officials and the public.

BPC continues to import half of Botswana’s annual power consumption from South African giant Eskom. The country is still awaiting the full operation of Morupule B Power station , a multi-billion Pula power generation asset constructed with a view to end Botswana’s power crises.

Morupule B, when in full operation will produce 600 mega-watts, is currently under maintenance and refurbishment following gross errors and a substandard job during construction.
The giant-4 units coal fuelled power plant is expected to roar to full capacity latest half year 2023. Currently Chinese contractors are on site in Palapye trying to breathe glory to the multibillion Pula power plant.

Meanwhile last year August, BERA awarded three licences to Independent Power Producers (IPP). Sese Power was granted a licence to produce 225 megawatts electricity from its Coal Bed Methane project in Makomoto, near Tonota along the A1 Road. Botswana Stock Exchange listed Tlou Energy was awarded a licence to produce 2 Megawatts, also from coal bed methane fuelled project.

Tlou has already singed a pilot purchase agreement with Botswana Power Corporation. Tlou is planning to construct 66kv transmission line to connect its Lesedi Coal Bed Methane project to the national electricity grid. The third Independent Power Producer license was awarded to Energy & Natural Resources Corporation. The company will produce 600 Megawatts from its coal fired power plant located north of Morupule Coal Mine in Palapye.

In parliament this week, Moagi revealed that the Power Generation and Distribution programme has been allocated the second largest share of the development budget at P171,485,053 (One hundred and seventy one million, four hundred and eighty five thousand and fifty three Pula) or 19%. The provision is towards continuation of the Backbone Power Transmission projects of Mochudi, Tlokweng and Ramotswa as well as the Provision of Services for Power Supply Build Programme

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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