Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gaolathe calls for establishment of water and energy regulator?

Botswana has in the past few months been facing restrictive power supply as breakdowns and maintenance at Morupule B power plant forces it to run at about a third of its capacity. At the same time, the country, particularly the southern part is faced with recurring water shortages which sometimes runs into several days. 

This has forced Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North Ndaba Gaolatlhe to table a motion in parliament that seeks to have a regulator of the two sectors in place. 

The motion that Gaolatlhe intends to table on Friday reads: That this honourable house requests government to establish an independent and autonomous water and power regulator to create an environment in which the water and power sector may benefit from significantly greater investments as well as efficiency and effectiveness to citizens and for the growth of the industry. 

Gaolatlhe argues that the worrying water circumstances engulfing the nation necessitate a regulator to compel sustainability.

“With the body in place, it will serve consumer interest, control water losses and support infrastructure,” Gaolatlhe said at the last sitting of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee mid last year.  

Gaolatlhe has always been of the view that the current water and energy problems that are bedeviling Botswana are a result of gross under-investment on the two key sectors of the national economy. Gaolatlhe gave an example of neighbouring South Africa, which has invested at least R4.3trillion in water projects over the next three years, a figure that far exceeds the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of R3.5trillion. Comparatively, Botswana has budgeted only P3billion for both water and electricity projects annually, which is less than the country’s GDP. Botswana’s annual budget is about P55billion while national GDP goes up to P140billion. On power production, the soft spoken legislature stressed that demand for electricity was exacerbated by government’s failure to invest in new plants and lack of maintenance of existing plants such as the old Morupule power plant. He also cited as a very slow developing private power producer market as amongst the factors that have led to the power deficit that is currently troubling Botswana.

The Botswana economy is facing restrictive growth due to the ongoing crisis in the water and energy sectors. In May last year, the central bank gave a stern warning that the ongoing power and water shortages are likely to have negative impacts on the growth of the local economy, both in the short and long run. 

Minister responsible for energy and water, Kitso Mokaila says the government is working around the clock to ensure that everything goes back to normality within a reasonable time. Mokaila is also expected to share his sentiments on the proposed regulator come Friday.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.