Wednesday, September 23, 2020

You think Covid-19 is bad for Botswana; climate change will be far worse!

Across the world Covid-19 has unsettled countries and rattled those in leadership as they grow unease and anxious – totally confused on how to react.

Ordinary citizens have been left to the mercy and exigencies of nature as many of them are furloughed from work and cut off from their lifelong livelihoods.

The pandemic has exposed the fragility of mankind and also how flimsy the systems he has put in place are.

A few weeks after Covid-19 hit the world, all systems that ran the world collapsed.

The same world had to reimagine new ones as it moved ahead.

Botswana has not been an exception.

Two weeks ago, President Mokgweetsi Masisi unveiled the new look CEDA guidelines.

It is a virtual re-make of the ones that had been presented to parliament by the Minister of Trade last year.

The guidelines as recently presented are supposed to provide a much-needed cushion for businesses and also for families.

For many businesses the pandemic has brought nothing but catastrophe.

After the lockdown, there are discernible efforts to kickstart the economy.

But kickstarting the economy should be done through the framework of “green targets” as they are more sustainable and ultimately cheaper.

CEDA should and can dovetail climate change concerns in its overall lending ecosystem.

That can only happen if government that owns CEDA demonstrate is dedication to address climate change concerns and also green technology innovations.

As it is the new guidelines are virtually empty on green measures.

Setting up a fully-fledged green bank might prove prohibitively too expensive.

But a hybrid, with overarching emphasis could certainly go a long way.

As things stand there is a feeling that the pandemic has decimated Botswana’s defence walls.

But unless we make preparations ahead to address climate change, we will with time realise that the pandemic was a nothing but a fly on the wall.

The challenge is political will.

Botswana’s political leadership needs to fully understand what climate change is, its likely impacts for Botswana, ramifications for late response and most importantly what mitigating it will look like for Botswana.

Botswana has to be held to a higher standard when it comes to innovation in response to climate change.

We have to stay ahead of the curve.

CEDA should set aside finance for projects that are green as part of its overall.

It is disheartening to see such commercial banks like Standard Chartered, FNBB and Barclays – now ABSA, all of them with headquarters where they are encouraging green technology literally doing nothing of the sort in Botswana.

Investing in green technology is a public service, but it also makes good business.

Government should use CEDA to empower indigenous citizens to stay ahead.

Commercial banks also need to adopt make green investment as integral requirement of their lending requirements.

But overall, the strategy should be towards establishing a “Green Bank.”

This is because the issue of financing is going to be critical if Botswana has to join other countries that are as we speak far ahead on addressing carbon emissions, climate change and the effects of the same.

For a country heavily reliant on tourism and also agriculture, it is surprising and even shocking that Botswana has not yet seen the vitality of joining the green movement – even at the levels of sheer symbolism.

In that score the Bank of Botswana has a role to play, not only in guiding movements towards that kind of a lending institute but also changing its own policy template towards demonstrating an admission that climate change is a real policy issue that has to be confronted head own.

Botswana is currently in the middle of an uncomfortable conversation that seeks to move away from tokenism to allowing indigenous Batswana a meaningful and substantial participation in the economy of their country.

It is a conversation that will not die unless those valid concerns that started it in the first instance are truthfully, genuinely and honestly addressed.

Those conversations have been amplified by Covid-19 pandemic.

With climate change the conversations will become shrivel, uncoordinated, unruly and impossible to control.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.