Vice President and Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe, on Monday officially commissioned the 1.3MW Photovoltaic solar power plant in Phakalane.
The solar power project was implemented through a Japanese grant as part of a strategy called “Cool Earth Partnership” which Japan announced in 2008 to address environmental issues.
Under the Cool Earth Partnership, Japan has provided funds amounting to US$10 billion to 52 partner countries including Botswana for their efforts in the environmental issues and this project was funded as part of the strategy.
Speaking at the official commissioning of the project, Kedikilwe said Japan’s technical assistance to Botswana enhances trust in the application of Renewable Energy Technologies.
He said Japan availed a grant of about P84 million for the construction of what was initially a 1 MW photovoltaic pilot power plant.
Through an open competitive bidding process, savings were realised which have been used to procure an additional 0.3 MW of photovoltaic plant giving an aggregate of 1.3 MW.
The Vice President also announced that the Japanese Embassy offered to concurrently undertake a study on the refurbishment of Morupule A power station with the aim of among other things, bringing emissions within statutory limits.
In the same year, the Japanese Government made an offer to undertake a feasibility study on the environmental improvement of the Municipal Solid Management in the Gaborone metropolitan area.
Kedikilwe thanked the Japanese Government for rendering the financial and technical support.
Speaking at the same event, Ambassador of Japan, Hiroyasu Kobayashi said the bilateral agreement for the project was signed on February 4th, 2010 and the construction was started last year under the supervision of Japanese contractors with BPC.
He said the agreement provides the necessary funds for maintaining the solar power generation system interconnected with a transformer substation in Phakalane.
Ambassador Kobayashi further said this project is a symbol of the commitment of Japan to Africa under the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) process which Japan has held since 1993, to enhance the cooperation with the African countries and also provide a fundamental and comprehensive policy and guideline on African development.
Also present at the commissioning ceremony were Boikobo Paya, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Jacob Raleru, CEO of Botswana Power Corporation and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mircus Chimbombi whose ministry was thanked for making the allocation of 2.3 hectares of land on which the Plant is constructed.