Sunday, May 19, 2024

Botswana should invest more on stabilizing energy generation

Botswana should work on putting guardrails around all aspects of its energy production.

At the moment there are too many holes that need plugging.

In fact there are too many weak links in that chain.

Ageing infrastructure is just one aspect.

There are issues on generation.

There is too much reliance on coal powered plants.

A lot needs to be done to create an appropriate depth of mix.

The benefit of that is that would spread risk.

Blackouts should not be allowed to become normal.

South African Eskom has been a big support for Botswana, especially with the just ended agreement that guaranteed power for Botswana.

But now Eskom is literally in tatters.

The economy of South Africa, many times bigger and much more sophisticated than Botswana’s and much more globally connected is now truly feeling the burden of intermittent power outages that have continued for more than a full year now.

Botswana’s economy faces several structural problems.

Doing things the old way cannot bring any changes.

For example we can no longer preach peace as a competitive advantage because all countries are peaceful.

And many of those countries have bigger populations than Botswana’s and some have far more developed network of roads, for example.

A stable and sufficient power supply can on its own have various economic dividends.

Such power can be exported to other countries.

It can also help create demand across the economy which by itself can result in a boom across sectors.

But an unstable energy supply can have immense negative economic consequences for the country.

There is already unsustainable level of unemployment in the country.

Any power outages that come anywhere near to where we were in 2011 will lead to massive layoffs especially in the mining sector.

A lot has to be done in the education front.

The country is already uncompetitive in many ways including its inappropriate education.

Many graduates are simply unattractive to business.

There is a big gap in skills needed and what the education is able to provide.

Botswana graduates are smart and well educated.

But their education is not what the market needs.

The graduates lack appropriate skills set.

Botswana education has to go vocational in a big and intentional way.

At the moment Botswana education continues to encourage rote learning.

There is emphasis on test taking.

Practical aspects are not taken as seriously. And that is dangerous.

There is going to be a lot of reforms if the country is to be stable going forward.

The quality and capacity of vocational schools is going to have to be expanded significantly.

There will also have to be reforms on the economy, which have been lagging for a long time now.

Modern business demand practical experience.

Modern business requires internship and a certain work ethic.

The country has to shift its education focus in that direction.

It will be a mammoth task. And it will take resources, visionary leadership and more importantly political will.

But on the immediate, it is on the energy front that more focus has to be.

Botswana remains vulnerable because of unstable energy generation.

Morupule B is still being remedied.

There is no guarantee that it will end up well.

It could go either way.

And that much is demonstrated not just by the delays but ongoing problems.

Energy will be key for economic stability and economic growth.

And economic stability will be a key determinant of social and political stability.


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