Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Our utilities deserves stimulus package to avert total collapse of the economy

It has been three or so weeks since our nation has received the good news ever for 2015. After the sad news that our economy will grow at less than 3 percent, and another sad news that our diamonds will not be sold as much as we are used to……ooh, and also another sad revelations that we failed to attain some of the goals of our national Vision (2016), we have no option but to classify the ESP announcement as good news. 

Although the bearer of this good news decided not to share with us further details in terms of the shape or the format that the ESP shall come in, everyone has been made to believe that it is a very big animal. As such our hopes are high and we cannot afford to be disappointed. Not this time around. We are very hopeful that each and every one of us shall have a share of this huge special package. In the meantime, while we wait, we thought we share some of our thoughts regarding where we would prefer our money to be channeled to. We demand that our share of the stimulus be used to speed up the projects that are rectifying the problems at the curse we call Morupule B and another disaster named NSC. There is no need to repeatedly state that our utilities (water and energy) in Botswana are in shambles and muddles. 

These are indeed desperate times that need drastic measures thus we dare demand that our share of the stimulus package be used to upgrade and speed up the North to South Carrier project II. At the same time, part of our share of the stimulus package should be directed towards speeding up the building of Unit 5 and 6 at the notorious Morupule B. 

One would have thought that by now since we are out of winter, and electricity demand is suppose to have gone down, we should not be having prolonged power cuts. Owaii!, we had no power for the whole of this  week in Commercepark ÔÇô An office park which houses hundreds of companies some of which are operating mini-factories. As if that’s not enough, we expect our taps to run dry for the whole of this week following a decision by WUC to carry their routine “burst and fix” of the NSC.  

There is too much talk in the streets, atleast Gaborone streets that the ESP will be used to build classrooms, internal roads and turn health posts into clinics. There is also a talk of using the money on Agriculture. All the aforementioned need not just water but electricity as well. Where are contractors going to get the water to carry their projects? 

There is no doubt that the two utilities, being water and energy sits at the nexus of so many global issues including health, hunger and economic growth. How then do we sound like we people who are going to ignore the fact that we need these two utilities as soon as yesterday? Why do we want to build science laboratories and classrooms whereas we do not have sufficient enough water and electricity to support such projectors…or maybe when a detailed plan of the ESP comes out in few weeks time it shall show how we are going to power this project? Whatever the case, we should not make a mistake of not diverting atleast part of the money to speed up the projects that will draw us towards sustainability and self sufficiency in both water and energy sectors. 

We ought to remember that our economy is facing restrictive growth partly due to the ongoing crisis in the water and energy sectors. If anyone doubt let them check the latest GDP figures from the government statistics agency. Even the central bank has previously gave a stern warning that the ongoing power and water shortages will result in negative impacts on the growth of the local economy, both in the short and long run. In as much as we are into this water crisis due to lack of rain, we cannot solely blame the climate change. The current shortage of water is partly a manmade disaster that came about as a result of our underinvestment on water transfer infrastructure….the disaster that is NSCI. 

So whichever the channel that the powers-that-be shall decide to drive our share of the stimulus package to, they also need to consider correcting that man made disaster. The #Bottomline shall always remain that the two, water and energy are key to economic growth. In order to avoid total collapse of our economy, we need to jerk up the two utilities which will in turn support economic growth. That is just simple ECO103 concept that we shouldn’t even be writing about. 

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