Saturday, October 23, 2021

Molefhi files P2billion proposal to update infrastructure

The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi has requested the sum of Two billion, One hundred and Thirty one million one hundred thousand (P2 131 100 000) for the refurbishment and rehabilitation of existing government infrastructure under the National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11). 

Molefhi told parliament last week that under NDP 11, which is being debated in parliament, the funds would be used to preserve the government infrastructure assets in order to address the disjoined infrastructure maintenance and planning among Ministries and departments. The budget represents atleast 57 percent of the total budget of the Infrastructure and Housing Development ministry under NDP 11. 

“This approach, coupled with prioritisation of maintenance funds is expected to result in efficient and effective implementation of all maintenance,” Molefhi said. 

The proposal made by Molefhi follows the revelation by the Brookings Institute, a leading think tank in the United States, that Botswana is one of the 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which have surpassed the threshold for domestic financing for infrastructure. The Brookings Institute experts said last year that when it comes to domestic financing for infrastructure, 5-6 percent of GDP should be sufficient. Alongside the Central Republic of Africa, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda, Botswana allocates between 7.1 and 8 percent of its GDP to infrastructure.

Despite this assurance, in the recent past, Botswana’s effort to invest in such infrastructure has yielded mixed fortunes. On a positive note, the country has partnered with Zambia to construct the long-awaited Kazungula Bridge which will connect southern Africa with the rest of the African continent. AfDB is providing 31.5 percent of the money needed to construct the US$259.3 million project which started in December 2014. 

On a negative note, Botswana has experienced catastrophic failure with the Morupule B power station, which AfDB also provided funding for. At full capacity, Morupule is supposed to generate 600 megawatts (MW), with each one of the four units generating 150 MW. However, until this year, the power station has never consistently generated that amount of power, resulting in load shedding that has come at great cost to both households and businesses.

At the same time, the 2015 Rand Merchant Bank’s “Where to Invest in Africa” report revealed that the quality of Botswana’s overall infrastructure has declined significantly over the past five years, making the country one of Africa’s “Top 5 Deteriorators”. 

Molefhi noted last week that during NDP 11, the government will assess, plan, develop and manage infrastructure in an integrated approach, inclusive of risk management, costÔÇôbenefit analysis and application of value engineering for attaining best value out of the infrastructure. 

“It is therefore necessary to explore other cost effective financial mechanisms for the provision of infrastructure,” Molefhi said in parliament.

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