Connect with us

Technology and climate: in support of a pragmatic approach

What role can technology play in protecting humanity and safeguarding the future of the planet? In the context of an increasingly polarized†public debate about climate change, these crucial issues are often misconstrued as being black and white. The conversation then becomes a simple back and forth between two diametrically opposed camps ó the techno-optimists who believe that technology holds all the answers, and the techno-pessimists who favour a low-tech future and an end to growth.

I think itís time to take another look at some of the more common arguments in this debate, which sometimes overlook the role of human creativity in environmental protection. First, some people argue that technology cannot save the climate because it is precisely technology that got us into this rocky situation in the first place. The post-war period is engraved in our collective memory as a time of blind faith in technical progress, with all its promise of prosperity and social advancement and the hope of a brighter future. Today, we have a much more critical view of these years of growth and optimism, holding them responsible for creating an unsustainable, productivist society.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” said Albert Einstein. So common sense should tell us to reject the technological utopia that some observers see as the root of all evil in the world. But this simplistic view overlooks one fundamentally important fact: technology is merely a tool that does what we want it to do.

After the Second World War, all our efforts were focused on creating material wealth and embracing the return of abundance after years of painful privation. This was the path taken by all the major nations of the world, followed by their companies, universities, research institutes, and so on. Today, we are asking something quite different of our engineers and researchers. Technology has taken a new direction and is increasingly expected to be a driving force behind†ecological transition.

Look at satellite technologies, for example: without them we would never have been able to understand or monitor climate phenomena in as much detail as we can today. Look at the vast creative potential that researchers are unleashing in the search to make the world more sustainable. This is the case for two major pillars of the ecological transition that will be needed in the short and medium term, namely electrification (batteries, electric vehicles, solar energy, etc.) and optimised energy consumption (artificial intelligence and big data, recycling, eco-design, etc.).

But more broadly, what we are witnessing today is an upsurge of sustainable innovation in a huge number of areas: the quest for new energy sources (low-carbon hydrogen, osmotic power, bioluminescence, marine energy, etc.), the transformation of agriculture (drones, low-nitrogen fertilisers, cultured meat, etc.), carbon capture and sequestration, and so on. Technological innovation today should not be confused with what it was yesterday, simply because it is not trying to solve the same problems.

The second argument commonly advanced by the techno-pessimists is that time is running out and the technologies that could be useful are not yet mature. It is true that many promising solutions ó carbon capture and even hydrogen, for example ó are still at the development stage. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these technologies. There is simply a lack of political will. What the world needs today is massive government support for sustainable innovation so that these technologies can be developed at full scale more quickly.

This is what is happening today with electric vehicles, which are already more cost efficient than diesel or petrol cars, and will soon be cheaper to buy†as well. When that happens, the tide will turn and electric vehicles will have a huge impact on the CO2 emissions of the transport sector. They do raise environmental issues, but that is another debate.

We need to act now to ensure that other appropriate technologies follow suit. It is encouraging to see world leaders signing up to the COP26 Breakthrough Agenda, which aims to make sustainable solutions more affordable and accessible than their conventional counterparts. Thereís no doubt we still have a long way to go, but the technologies are already there. We are not waiting for a miracle to happen ó we just need to accelerate the development process.

People also say that relying on technology to make the transition will consume vast quantities of energy and natural resources. Indeed it may seem contradictory to start a process of decarbonisation by building new infrastructure on a massive scale. From this point of view as well, the task ahead is colossal, in particular because electricity currently only accounts for 20% of the energy consumed by end-users worldwide. Increasing this proportion would require an enormous amount of production capacity. This may sound counter-intuitive. But itís important to weigh the costs against the benefits at the right scale.

Letís take one example from Thalesís aerospace business. We have designed a new system that connects the aircraftís flight management systems more closely with the air traffic management infrastructure. The new solution will inevitably require more energy, but our engineers believe it can reduce overall fuel consumption by at least 10% by 2023. Thatís a savings of more than 100 million tonnes of CO2 by 2040, and highly beneficial for the carbon footprint of the air transport sector as a whole.

What works on a small scale will also work on a global scale. To see how useful a technology can be, you need to look at the big picture, not just the short-term effects. Lastly, people also say that counting on technology is too risky, and that itís a safer bet to reduce our consumption straight away by adopting radically different, more frugal lifestyles. Here again, it is not for me to judge which policies would be best, and there is probably a lot to be said for living more frugally. But for two main reasons, I do think we need to be wary of Malthusian reactions which could lead to drastic solutions.

First, the economy cannot be treated in isolation: it is only part of the equation. If we stop growth, we erode our capacity to invest in research and development, which†means we could never hope to develop low-carbon technologies. Ending growth would be just as risky as counting solely on low-carbon technologies to save the world. Because economic prosperity is not just a question of material comfort ófor millions of people in poorer countries, it’s a question of survival.

Second, the difficulty of reaching an international consensus on climate action makes radical frugality on a global scale an [even more] illusory goal. Trying to follow that path would waste precious time in the race to adopt more moderate, more realistic solutions. When Thales started to disclose its carbon footprint just over 15 years ago, we set a precedent in our sector which has become standard practice today. At that time, environmental performance had very little to do with the company’s attractiveness and reputation. Today, young people quite simply refuse to work for a company that doesn’t share their values, and investors are more and more attentive to the extra-financial performance of the businesses they invest in.

Thanks to the work of the IPCC* and others, the facts are now established, information is widely available and ecological awareness is making real progress. Today it’s time to act. And that means we need to be rational, inventive and above all pragmatic ó three qualities that are in no short supply in the scientific and engineering community. We would be well advised to give them pride of place as we step up to the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

*The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
African Media Agency(AMA)

Continue Reading


BTC launches the 3rd Francistown Marathon 2024 and handover proceeds to the 2nd Francistown Marathon beneficiaries

8th December 2023

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.

BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.  BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.

The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.

Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC‚Äôs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that ‚Äúthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown‚ÄĚ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that ‚Äúthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC‚Äôs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries‚ÄĚ.

He further stated that through this marathon, ‚Äúwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society‚ÄĚ. ¬†He concluded by stating that ‚ÄúBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large‚ÄĚ he said.

Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that ‚Äúhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon‚ÄĚ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the ‚ÄúCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities‚ÄĚ, he said.

The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.


Continue Reading


Letsholo lauds President Masisi’s digitization in fight against corruption

8th December 2023

Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.

According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.

The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.

Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.

Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.

Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.

In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.


Continue Reading


FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.









Continue Reading