Botswana’s abundant solar energy resources have been identified as a dependable alternative solution for addressing the country’s electrical power deficit.To that end, the decision by the Government of Japan as epitomized by the exchange of notes by Ambassador of Japan Ryoichi Matsuyama with Kenneth Matambo, Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), to grant Botswana P83.6 million for building a 1Mega Watt (MW) Photo Voltaic (PV) power station in the elitist prime site of Phakalane in Gaborone was described as a welcome development. ┬á┬áMatambo pointed out that, “This project falls within the national development plan (NDP 10) programme of Renewable Energy and Power Development.
Apparently the objective of the programme is to ensure energy security, at the same time reducing energy related carbon dioxide emissions, by promoting renewable and low green house gas emissions.
Matambo pointed out that the objective resonates with the ideals of the “Cool Earth partnership” concept, which formed part of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).
On that score, Ryoichi Matsuyama stated on the occasion of exchanging notes with Matambo, that since Botswana became a member of the Cool Earth Partnership starting the past one and half years ago, she is eligible for our support.
The Cool Earth Partnership, which is an initiative of the government of Japan, was aimed at supporting developing countries in their efforts to combat global warming. Botswana has therefore shown the required enthusiasm in coping with her environmental challenges.
“Moreover, the fact that as a result of Botswana’ remarkable performance since independence she had to be classified as a middle income country, and therefore ineligible for┬á foreign aid, Japan found it proper to┬á reward her with a donation for her enthusiasm,” commented Matsuyama.
For his part, Matambo on behalf of the government of Botswana, expressed gratitude thus, “There is no doubt that the project will have a very significant impact on the efforts of producing clean energy while at the same time, enhancing bilateral cooperation with Japan.”
Unlike other small solar power facilities, the proposed PV power station, which is expected to be constructed by a Japanese company, is set to be connected to the national grid of the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) so as to mitigate the power shortage in the country.
Acknowledging Japan’s contribution, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Minister of Mineral s, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWAR) indicated that from a casual glance it would appear insignificant but, “in real terms IMW would probably suffice lighting up an area as wide as Mmadinare and peripheral settlements which in proportion to our ocean of needs is certainly worth the difference.”
The Government of Japan has pledged about 15billion US dollars equivalent of 102.1 billion pula for the assistance of developing countries as a part of “Hatoyama Initiative” on the basis of which the “Cool Earth partnership was found.
Botswana has already benefited from various initiatives of the Government of Japan in areas such as education, combating the scourge of HIV and development of new technologies for innovation in many fields especially in the area of geology.
In the final analysis, the new solar projects is seen as providing impetus to finding better solutions to the country’s energy needs, yet with less negative effect on the environment, especially taken against the backdrop of reduced ┬ápower sale commitment’s ┬áby neighbouring countries┬á because of inadequate supply which led to load shedding.
Currently, Botswana imports 80 percent of electricity to meet her energy needs while only 20 percent is generated locally.