World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, was in Botswana this week to witness projects funded by the Bank in the country, after which she met President Ian Khama and the Minister responsible for Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWAR), Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
Tlokweng Village, which has now become a metropolitan part of the Gaborone City, had the privilege of being patronised by the international Bank official, where she got a snapshot of urban water supply systems currently being implemented by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) in the area and elsewhere in the country.
After meeting Khama, Ezekwesili said, “…The World Bank is committed to its partnership with Botswana and supporting the country’s efforts to diversify the economy, improve service delivery, achieve energy security, and enhance competitiveness with a view to improving the lives of all Batswana citizens.”
In addition, she pointed out that drawing on its global experience in the water sector, the World Bank was providing fee-based technical assistance to the Government of Botswana and advice on assessing implementation capacity, building a reform map, and stakeholder consultations and outreach to communities.
For that reason, the Bank official expressed delight to have had an opportunity to visit Botswana, and acknowledged President Khama and Minister Kedikilwe for the┬á fruitful exchanges she had with them, and for their ‘gracious hospitality.’
The discussions between Ezekwesili and Khama, as well as Kedikilwe were focused on Botswana’s development challenges emanating from the global financial and economic crises, according to a statement from the Bank’s office in Pretoria.┬á
┬áProjects funded by World Bank and other Botswana’s Development partners, which were visited by Ezekwesili during her two-day visit, beginning Tuesday 8th up to Wednesday 9th November 2010, included Morupule ‘B’ Generation and Transmission Project and the Botswana National HIV/AIDS Prevention Support (BNAPS) related Projects.
Another yet important project that benefited from the World Bank finance was that of Mobilising Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D).
┬áIn October 2009, the World Bank approved a US$136.4 million (about P900 million) loan for the Morupule ‘B’ Generation and Transmission Project to secure reliable supply of electricity and prepare a low-carbon growth strategy.┬á The package included a Partial Credit Guarantee of US$242.7 million (about P1.5 billion) of commercial bank financing for the project.
Botswana, it is generally held will be poised to play a leading role in the energy sector, including potential to develop Coal-Bed Methane (CBM) industry which could potentially replace existing diesel thermal generation, both within Botswana and more widely within the Southern African Power Pool countries.
When that happens, the result would be lower carbon emissions over and above the fact that the acting as a source of export earnings for Botswana.
Mention has been made of the fact that despite Botswana had been excluded from receiving concessional funding on the basis of its relative middle income status, the Bank jointly with European Commission agreed on an innovative “buy ÔÇôdown approach”(which allows a donor to “buy” the interest┬á on the loan) to provide funding for┬á BNAPS project worth┬á US$ 50 million.
┬áOut of the total project value, US$20 million came from the European Commission in the form of a performance-based grant.
┬áIt was in the context of the relationship between the Botswana government and the Bank that, in partnership with the Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), the World Bank on Wednesday co-hosted a “development dialogue” on the “ICT4D Phenomenon, An African Success story” at the Gaborone Sun Hotel grounds.
┬áThe dialogue was an open forum to advance debate and inform policymakers and other stakeholders about Africa-wide trends in ICT4D, showcasing global and African success stories about how ICT4D is being used to improve delivery of public services, promote transparency and accountability.
“I look forward to continuing the close cooperation that exists between the Government of Botswana and the World Bank Group, and accelerating the fight against poverty by improving health, mobilizing ICT, and enhancing competitiveness, all for the common good,” Ezekwesili concluded.