SELEBI PHIKWE: In an effort to diversify the economy of Selebi Phikwe and its region, a study was conducted under the European Union economic diversification initiative of the mining sector for Botswana, aptly referred to as ‘a study into tourism, recreational and other related opportunities in the environs of Letsibogo Dam near Selebi Phikwe’.
Theodre Seemule, Projects Manager, of the Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU), told The Telegraph that the study was funded by the European Union and was completed in April 2009.
“The primary objective of the study was to establish the potential of tourism, recreation and leisure facilities at Letsibogo Dam as part of the process of economic development and diversification in the area as well as draw out terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment of two tourism sites earmarked for development by the Mmadinare Development Trust (MDT) for tourism related development,” he revealed.
Seemule stated that the study addressed four main areas mainly the preparation of integrated development for the dam and its environs, identification of development sites for private sector or community development, implementation plan from promotion and launch, through tendering up to post operational monitoring and lastly preparation of an investor prospectus.
“The study in general concluded that the planned tourism development for Letsibogo Dam has good potential and that the developments are compatible with national and regional development strategies,” he said. Seemule explained that to make the site even more tourist friendly, Water Utilities Corporation, who manages the dam, should ban the use of fossil fuelled boats on the dam.
“However, search and rescue vessels might be allowed to be used in the dam but all in all we want to promote the dam as a fossil fuel free zone so as to enhance its attractiveness,” Seemule added.
“There is a prima facie case for Selebi Phikwe to become a stop over destination for travellers en route to the northern based wildlife areas and tourism destinations of Chobe and the Delta hence they can stop over at Letsibogo and use facilities that will have been built,” said Seemule.
Han-Peter Tomschi, EU framework consultant asserted that the ecological state of the dam is suitable and good for tourism and that there are continued monitoring of selected components to ensure its tourism attractiveness. “The state of the dam is in a healthy condition for tourism, it has drinking water quality and an abundance of aquatic life,” said Tomschi.
To make the whole project a success, Seemule noted that they will be working with the Botswana Tourism Board (BTB) as the designated Lead Agency due to their direct interest in and mandate to collaborate tourism activity in Botswana. Other key stakeholders will be WUC and the Ngwato Land Board, the main custodian of tribal land in the region designated to Contracting Authority for land leases.
He explained that SPEDU is the regional facilitating entity for economic diversification and development within the region and its role is to spearhead the implementation process in close harmony with WUC, BTB and NLB.
Letsibogo Dam was built in 1998 and is currently used as a water storage reservoir, managed by the Water Utilities Corporation and the Wildlife Department. It’s also used for little commercial fishing.