The Member of Parliament for Shoshong Phillip Makgalemele has said that his constituency has embraced the idea of cooperative societies.
In 2011, the constituency undertook a study to identify the potential of operating cooperatives in various villages which concluded that the Constituency can be a hub for cooperatives.
Makgalemele says before the 2011 study, another study was carried which showed that that Government did not have any specific strategies aimed at attracting investors to rural areas.
“The study revealed a series of comparative advantages presented by our Constituency. In Parliament I continued drumming the song for investments in the rural areas, and in 2011 successfully presented a motion that called on government to develop specific strategies aimed at attracting investors to rural areas,” said Makgalemele
He further said that the 2010 study revealed ten business opportunities for attracting investors; Agriculture, Tourism, Renewable Energy and Bio-fuel, with Waste Management projects featuring prominently. On the 14th February 2011 they launched an initiative called ‘Shoshong Constituency- Your Investment Destination Initiative’ chaired by a local business man.
“In 2012, we started our annual investment promotion show where we show case our comparative advantages as a constituency and the areas for possible investment promotion”.
At the time, the constituency muted the idea of setting up a one megawatt solar power generating plant in the village of Tobela. The choice of Tobela, he said was influenced by the fact that the village did not have electricity, while electricity grid passed over the village. Tobela is a village between Mahalapye and Shoshong. Tobela Community now owns five per cent and Lesoso Cooperative 25per cent of the solar project.
Fast forward to 2017 a power purchase agreement was signed at GICC for a five megawatt project. Some people of Tobela are members of Lesoso Solar Power, and jobs will be created once the station is in operation. Makgalemele and his constituents also anticipate more downstream industries from the project.
At the same time, Makgalemele said in Tobela another cooperative was formed and registered in 2016. The Coop focuses on Tswana Chickens and the community there wants Tobela to be a Hub for Tswana Chickens. This is in line with a concept he promotes; of a Japanese model- One Village One Project (OVOP). In order to boost this Coop, P100 000 was allocated to them from the P10 Million Constituency Community Development Fund during the 2017/18 financial year.
The Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness said to further demonstrate his love for renewable energy he in 2013 sent two women from villages of Poloka and Mokgenene to India for six months at the Barefoot College. They went to learn on renewable energy especially solar power. Shoshong constituency is currently securing funding for them since they also gained other skills such as candle making and sanitary pads manufacturing.
“I am proud that the Tobela PTY Ltd is chaired by the Chairperson of Tobela Solar Power Cooperative. As the patron of the initiative, I am lobbying that as the Board considers a technical and financial partner support for Poloka and Mokgenene be unused for off grid projects. The other justification is that we already have two women who are trained in solar power generation,” he said.
Makgalemele said that he personally supports Private Public Partnerships (PPP) and he hopes that the new PEEPA CEO will fast track their implementation.
Meanwhile Makgalemele revealed that the P150 million worth of solar energy’s construction is hoped to start in March and envisaged to take six months to complete.