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Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR)
Success looms for Rural Electrification Projects
02/08/10
Government’s commitment to improve the livelihoods of Batswana has seen national access to electricity growing to 58% through the Rural Electrification Project.

Government’s commitment to improve the livelihoods of Batswana has seen national access to electricity growing to 58% through the Rural Electrification Project.

The recent electrification projects carried out by the government are the 30 and 100 villages’ electrification projects respectively. These are some of the projects aimed at accelerating electrification in rural areas. Both of these projects have been running concurrently from September 2007 and to date, a total of 301 villages have been electrified nationally and electricity network extensions done in 87 villages.

According to Dr Benoni Erskine, the Director of Energy Affairs Division, the 30 villages electrification project was financed by the Government of Botswana at a cost of P115 million and the sole remaining village yet to be electrified in the project is Seronga in Ngamiland.

Dr Erskine further explained that the delay in electrifying Seronga was due to the fact that the villages in Ngamiland had been getting their power from Namibia but due to the inability of the existing infrastructure to accommodate any more villages, a temporary diesel generation station has been planned for construction in Seronga which will supply six villages in this region.

By April 2010, 81 villages were already completed under the 100 villages’ electrification project while all the remaining villages had been contracted and construction is ongoing in villages like Tshidilamolomo, Tshimoyapula, Botlhapatlou, Beetsha and others.

The residents of Mokolodi were delighted when their village was among those under the 100 villages’ project whose electrification process was successfully completed. Mrs. Keitumetse Lebelo, one of the Mokolodi residents, said life at home has now been made easier since her house was electrified in May 2010. She said there was now constant noise in the house with the use of the television and chores like ironing were now a breeze as they could just plug in the iron at any time of the day. Mrs. Lebelo said that the use of candles and paraffin lamps was now a thing of the past and her children could now do their homework in adequate light at night.

For business owners, the provision of electricity in Mokolodi will enable them to increase their operations as aspiring businessman Matita David Malongwa said. Mr. Malongwa, who rears guinea fowls and chickens, said this will allow him to buy incubators and heaters for the small chicks once they’ve hatched.

Despite efforts by the government to improve access to electricity by electrifying many villages, there is still a challenge of low numbers on household connections which has been attributed mostly to high costs for connection. Mr. Bashi Buti, the vice-chairman of the Mokolodi Village Development Committee (VDC), concurred with this assessment as he said he was one of the people whose houses were yet to be electrified due to the high connection costs. He said that his house was wired with the intention to connect electricity but when he was given a figure of P 12 000.00 which was then lowered to P 9 000.00, he got discouraged to fulfill his objective.

To address this, Government is currently in the process of introducing a national standard cost of P5000.00 which is planned to start in October 2010.

According to the VDC chairman Mr. Alfred Sefudi, many villagers do not know much about water and electricity connection costs and what they had to do so as to get the amenities in their houses. He urged the relevant departments providing the services to come and educate the residents. He added that even the revised connection cost of P5000.00 will still be too high for many villagers. Mr. Sefudi said since Mokolodi was electrified last year, there were a few street lights installed and the bar, clinic and local primary school now had electricity.

The electrification of Mokolodi will enable the Botswana Telecommunication Corporation’s (BTC) mobile division beMobile to install a ‘telecentre’ in the village which will be the second one of the 159 villages planned. According to Mr. M.N. Kebalefetse, the Project Coordinator at the BTC Project Office, the centre will have computers and telephone lines which will allow the villagers to run an internet café. Mr. Kebalefetse said that beMobile will pay for the installation of the prepaid electricity and the initial purchase of the electricity units, but that the subsequent purchasing of electricity will be done by the VDC. The telecentre will be located at the VDC grounds and this will also allow the committee to extend the electrification to the recently completed houses within the VDC compound.

Although the Rural Electrification Project is yet to be completed, many villagers across Botswana can attest to the fact that this initiative has indeed made their lives easier and will continue to do so for many others as well.

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