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Energy & Water

An adequate and reliable supply of power and water is critical to economic growth and development as it creates a favourable environment for investment as well as improves living standards.

Improvements in electricity and water supply infrastructure are expected to help boost the recovery of Botswana’s economy going forward. The spotlight is currently on a number of key power generation and transmission initiatives, including the fast-tracking of new green technology projects as well as large-scale water and sanitation schemes, which occupy the biggest share (22 percent) of the 2021/22 Development Budget.

Shell Service Station
The Botswana Development Corporation building © BDC.


Energy security is a national priority for Botswana, as the availability of reliable power is a critical input for the production of goods and services, as well as contributing towards improved household living conditions, especially in the rural areas. Government thus continues to carry out major power infrastructure development projects, electrification of rural villages, network extension and reinforcement, as well as the refurbishment of the transmission and distribution network.

The parastatal Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Botswana for domestic, commercial and industrial use. Power sources include the coal-fired 132-megawatt Morupule A and 600-megawatt Morupule B power stations, as well as diesel-based emergency power plants at Orapa and Matshelagabedi. Demand shortfall is met through power imports from South Africa and Mozambique.

Botswana’s current electricity demand stands at about 600 megawatts, with peak demand of around 700 megawatts. There is an electrical energy demand of approximately 3 290 gigawatt hours for all sectors of the economy, including industries, services and households. This is expected to increase proportionally with economic growth; up to 1 445 megawatts maximum demand and 8 637 gigawatt hours annual energy demand by 2040, assuming an average GDP growth of 3.6 percent per annum.

The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has been implementing initiatives to address concerns raised by the Global Competitiveness Report; in particular, sufficient access to electricity for business and industry. Initiatives have subsequently been put in place to improve the turnaround times for issuing quotations and pre-qualifying citizen contractors and consultants to expedite the connection process. Furthermore, BPC is pursuing the use of locally manufactured products such as cables, transformers and concrete poles as part of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).

The independent energy regulator, the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA), aims to ensure the orderly development of the energy sector. This includes overseeing the restructuring and commercialising of BPC, attracting independent power producers (IPPs) and private sector participation for efficient service delivery, developing a tariff structure more reflective of costs, increasing renewable energy contributions to the energy mix, and reducing reliance on imported energy.

Power Station

BERA promotes sustainable and secure energy supply across the country. This has entailed issuing trading licences for petrol filling stations, petroleum wholesalers and other industrial licences related to petroleum products, as well as provisional licences for standby generators. In November 2019, the Authority issued three licenses for power generation to IPPs. One was for local generation while two were for electricity exports.

A draft National Energy Policy has been prepared and is ready for submission to Parliament for adoption. In addition, an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has been developed for the electricity sector and was launched in December 2020. The IRP provides a roadmap for achieving a reliable, safe and affordable electricity supply, with a target of increasing the contribution of renewable energy from the present 2 percent to 15 percent by 2030. Implementation of the two documents will ensure energy security of supply to support economic growth, and will also see Botswana shift from being a net importer of electricity to being a net exporter.

The refurbishment of the Morupule A 132-megawatt Power Station was successfully completed in February 2020. All four units are now in commercial operation, and the plant is delivering a consistent 104 megawatts into the grid.

The 600-megawatt Morupule B Power Plant is currently undergoing comprehensive remedial works to address deficiencies. As per the agreed work schedule, the first unit should have been handed over to BPC in September 2020. However, the process suffered delays on account of travel restrictions which affected the movement of contractors from China. These setbacks notwithstanding, by February 2021 the first unit was largely complete and was due to be commissioned in June 2021. The balance of the remedial works should be finished by 2023.

There are also plans for a 300-megawatt coal plant, which could be operational by 2026.

Green’ or ‘Clean’ Technology refers to technology that is considered environmentally friendly based on its production process or supply chain. Botswana has one of the highest solar energy ratings globally, and renewable energy technology initiatives have great potential to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and costly diesel-fired power stations. A comprehensive Renewable Energy Strategy has been developed with the objective of attracting domestic and foreign investment.

Government has targeted increasing the contribution of renewable energy from the present 2 percent to 15 percent by 2030.

In order to meet national electricity demand at least-cost and in an environmentally responsible manner, Government is to implement the following green technology projects through IPPs, in line with the newly approved Integrated Resource Plan:
• 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic plants, comprising two 50 megawatt power plants which will be located in Selebi-Phikwe and Jwaneng. The tender award to the successful bidder/s was expected in the first quarter of 2021, and commercial operation is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022.
• 12 grid-tied solar photovoltaic plants totalling 35 megawatts by 2022. Tender awards are scheduled for the first and second quarters of 2021, and commercial operation is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. These plants will be at Kasane, Molepolole, Tutume, Ghanzi, Tsabong, Maun, Serowe, Bobonong, Shakawe, Lobatse, Mamuno and Kang.
• 10 megawatts Coal Bed Methane (CBM) by the year 2025, currently undergoing procurement processes
• 200 megawatts Concentrated Solar Plant (CSP) by the year 2026, with procurement scheduled to start in 2021
• 50 megawatts wind by 2027, procurement to start in 2024
• 100 megawatts Solar Photovoltaic by the year 2027, procurement to start in 2025

Furthermore, Solar Rooftop Guidelines have been developed to encourage private sector participation in the expansion of green technology infrastructure. Excess energy will be sold to the BPC. This nationwide programme is being piloted in five areas in Gaborone; namely, the Okavango Diamond Company, Bank of Botswana, Airport Junction Mall, Diamond Trading Company Botswana and Botho College, and is limited to a system-wide aggregate capacity of 10 megawatts for the first 12 months. Two megawatts will be reserved for domestic consumers while the rest will be for commercial use.

The use of biogas in public institutions is being promoted by Government in partnership with other development partners. An 18-month feasibility study on Waste-to- Energy is in the pipeline, and the rollout of 200 small-scale biogas digesters has begun under a project supported by the UNDP. The rollout is open to eligible citizens, including small-scale agro-business and livestock producers, schools and other institutions. The project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), while the research and innovation aspects are undertaken by the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI).

In partnership with councils and additional interested stakeholders, three medium-sized biogas digesters for agro-industry, ranging from 300 – 5 000 cubic metres, are also being built. A technical and financial feasibility study for a medium-scale biogas digester for the Botswana Meat Commission has been completed, and the Environmental Management Plan and sourcing of technical and financial partners for the establishment of the digester is ongoing.

National power supply infrastructure continues to be upgraded and maintained in order to ensure a stable supply and transmission of power whilst creating adequate transmission capacity to facilitate exports through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) network. The grid is also being expanded to provide services to villages, agri- businesses, mining and tourism facilities.

Government had by early 2021 completed some key transmission and distribution projects. These include the extension of the high voltage transmission grid to the north- west of the country, as well as transmission reinforcement works in Ramotswa and Gaborone. The North-West Transmission Grid Connection (NWTGC) project extends the high voltage transmission grid from Morupule power station to Maun, Toteng, Samochima and Ghanzi. This will significantly reduce the power imports bill from cross- border supply and provide reliable grid power to mining operations in the region.

The ZiZaBoNa power project is creating a new Western Transmission Corridor in southern Africa by linking the power grids of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. This will allow these countries to export or import more power, and to trade energy with each other as well as with the wider SAPP area – South Africa in particular. Furthermore, it will ease congestion on the North-South transmission corridor through Zimbabwe to South Africa, reduce transmission losses and increase reliability.

The Project has been repackaged into three components: Component A (Zimbabwe–Zambia); Component B (Zimbabwe–Botswana); and Component C (Zambia– Namibia). Techno-economic studies and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies have been completed, as has the process of aligning technical feasibility to environmental studies, which will inform the final technical specifications and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) documents.

National access to electricity was estimated to stand at 64 percent in 2020.

Government continues to implement the Rural Electrification Programme to ensure availability, access and affordability of electricity by all Batswana, even those living in isolated and scarcely populated villages. The programme was 88 percent complete by November 2020, with 435 out a total of 492 gazetted villages in the country having been electrified. A further 15 villages were due to be completed before the end of the year, bringing the total to 90 percent.

The Rural Electrification Programme is implemented fully by citizen consultants and contractors in accordance with Government’s Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) and Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) policies. More than P2 billion has been spent on projects such as these and the North-West Transmission. Furthermore, BPC has incubated over 60 citizen-owned companies for the construction and maintenance of distribution infrastructure.

Botswana imports nearly all its refined petroleum products from South Africa. The national oil company, Botswana Oil (Pty) Ltd (BOL), was established in 2013 with a mandate to ensure security of fuel supplies and promote citizen economic empowerment as well as to manage strategic petroleum stocks. To ensure national security of fuel supply, during the 2021/22 financial year additional strategic fuel storage facilities are being developed in Ghanzi (30 million litres), Francistown (60 million litres), and Tshele Hill in the Kgatleng district.

In addition, Government has identified alternative sources of petroleum which will significantly increase the security of fuel supply to the country. The Coal to Liquids (CTL) project is at feasibility stage and is expected to be completed during the course of 2021. The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has already pre-qualified bidders for the CTL project, with private sector partners to finance, construct and operate the project.

Local company Chongoene Corridor Refinery (Pty) Limited (CCRL), is proceeding with plans for a multibillion- dollar investment in a petroleum refinery and tank farm in Francistown. This includes an estimated 1 182-kilometre crude oil and natural gas pipelines from Mozambique. The 150 000 barrels per day refinery, along with the advent of natural gas feedstock supplies, will have a major positive and transformational impact on the economy of Botswana as well as other SADC member states. The CCRL project will produce fuel and lubricants for distribution across the region, and will also include tank farms for storage and strategic reserves.

Power Station


Botswana has a semi-arid climate with limited surface water, and water resources are treated as a precious asset. Priority is given to the development and usage of surface water ahead of groundwater. Dam development has been challenging, as there is a shortage of suitable sites in the south-east of the country near the main centres of demand. Most of Botswana’s surface water resources are located in the northern areas.

Supply shortages are largely due to the country’s size, low rural population density and climate, and are exacerbated by water infrastructure bottlenecks. There is a pressing need to develop a robust water infrastructure and alternative water sources, with priorities during NDP 11 including the construction of strategic pipelines to support economic activity in the south-east, well-field development and rainwater harvesting.

The parastatal Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is responsible for the treatment, pumping, storage and distribution of water to consumers in urban centres, providing services through its 16 management centres countrywide. Under the Water Sector Reform Programme, the WUC took over the responsibility for water supply in 540 villages from the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) and Ministry of Local Government.

Dikgatlhong Dam © WUC

Prevention of the spread and transmission of Covid-19 requires good hygiene practices, and supplying water to all households is thus critical. Government has therefore prioritised a number of initiatives, including the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with critical water shortages and a further 41 un-gazetted settlements, the reconnection of all customers
with outstanding bills, and the suspension of water disconnections countrywide. While short-term water projects are being put in place, Government is at the same time implementing medium to long-term projects such as the development of the Botswana Water Security Strategy 2020-2040 to ensure reliability and consistency
of water supply.

Botswana’s three key dams – Dikgatlhong, Thune and Lotsane – were completed during NDP 10. As a result, the combined volume of the country’s dams rose from 393 million cubic metres to 967 million cubic metres and the combined yield from 68 million to 151.5 million cubic metres per annum. The current focus is on building the associated infrastructure to provide access to these water sources.

The impressive North-South Carrier (NSC) water scheme is one of the world’s largest water transfer projects, and was developed to augment rapidly growing demand in the country’s main consumer areas. Water from the Letsibogo Dam is pumped south along a 360-kilometre transfer pipeline to the greater Gaborone area, also serving major villages located along the route.

The second phase of the NSC water scheme (NSC 2) is seeing a bulk water transfer pipeline being built parallel to the existing line via Palapye and Mmamashia to Gaborone in order to secure reliable surface water supplies in eastern Botswana up to 2035. This incorporates the construction of strategic reservoirs and water supply distribution networks, including the water supply network in Gaborone and the connection of new areas in Gaborone North, Sebele, the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport development area and the Forest Hill Development. The project will benefit areas such as Oodi, Modipane and Matebele.

The largest share of the 2021/22 development budget was set aside for the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, with water projects accounting for P2.93 billion or 85.0 percent of the Ministry’s allocation.

Targeted initiatives for the 2021/22 financial year focus on: the NSC 2.2, consisting of the Palapye–Mmamashia Water Pipeline along with the Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant expansion; as well as the NSC 2.3, which comprises the Mmamashia–Gaborone pipeline in addition to the implementation of the Gaborone Water Master Plan.

In the southern part of the country, the construction of the Masama–Mmamashia 100-kilometre pipeline has begun, and is expected to be completed by May 2021. The project will inject an additional 64 million cubic litres of

water per day into the Greater Gaborone, Lobatse, Kanye, Ramotswa, Molepolole and Borolong areas.

Both the Ramotswa Water Treatment Plant and the connection of the Ramonnedi Wellfield to Mmathethe were expected to be completed by December 2020. The latter project addresses the shortage of water for the village as a short-term measure while awaiting the implementation of the Metlojane–Mmathethe World Bank Project. Furthermore, the Molepolole–Gamononyane NSC connection and Goodhope Water Master Plan (Phase 2) are currently at procurement stage.

Additional major investments in water and sanitation infrastructure during 2021/22 include the ongoing Maun Water Supply and Sanitation Scheme. Expected to be completed in 2022, the scheme aims to provide potable water and sanitation networks to benefit the areas of Sexaxa, Matsaudi, Sekampane and Shorobe.

Other significant developments include the implementation of Lobatse Water Supply Master Plan; the Moshupa Sanitation project; and connection of Tswapong South villages to the NSC at Mahalapye. At the same time, the Mahalapye and Palapye Water Treatment works are scheduled for completion in December 2021.

The Gumare Water Treatment Plant, which should be completed by January 2021, is designed to service the villages of Gumare, Tubu, Etsha 1 and Etsha 6. Work continues on the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant, with the aim of completing it by February 2021. The project entails rehabilitation of the existing treatment plant to increase treated water capacity to meet demand in seven villages in the Okavango Sub District up until 2035. Furthermore, Government is building a Water Treatment Plant in Kasane, with an anticipated completion date of March 2023, targeting Kasane, Kazungula, Lesoma and Chobe enclave villages.

Over and above projects that are financed by the Ministry, there will be additional financial support for projects under World Bank supported programmes. This includes the North East and Tutume Water Supply project, which entails upgrading and remedial works in 52 villages in the two districts, with works scheduled to be completed by August 2021.

The rehabilitation of the Glen Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant to improve plant efficiency and compliance with environmental discharge protocols was expected to be completed by the end of 2020. A feasibility study for the implementation of the Glen Valley Wastewater Reclamation project through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has also been concluded. Private sector partners will be contracted in 2021 to finance, construct and operate the project, which involves the development of infrastructure to recycle wastewater for potable use.

As Botswana is an arid country prone to droughts, water security is a pressing issue, and necessitates the identification of additional water resources to meet present and future demand, which is expected to increase to 340 million cubic metres per annum by 2035 from the current
245 million cubic metres, according to the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. The development of the Botswana Water Security Strategy currently underway aims to address short, medium and long-term solutions to the water demand deficit countrywide.

Botswana shares a number of rivers with her neighbours. Maintaining international water relations is an important element in building and strengthening partnerships, with transboundary cooperation prioritised under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on shared watercourses. Government continues to engage with partners on riparian water rights and usage under the auspices of the Okavango River Basin Commission (OkaCom), Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission (OraseCom), Zambezi River Basin Commission (ZamCom) and Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LimCom). Consultations in respect of accessing shared water courses are ongoing.

Botswana’s total annual water demand was in 2020 estimated at 245 million cubic metres.

With regard to the Chobe-Zambezi Transfer, Botswana has been able to secure an allocation of 495 million cubic metres per year, which will be used to supply water to Pandamatenga for irrigation as well as domestic supply in the southern parts of the country. It is anticipated that this scheme will be completed by 2025. Plans are progressing well, with expressions of interest to build, finance and operate the project on a PPP basis to be issued in the 2021/22 financial year.

The Lesotho-Botswana Water Transfer Project aims to supply 200 million cubic metres of water to the south- eastern parts of Botswana via a 600 to 700-kilometre pipeline from Lesotho. With the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other partners, OraseCom has been developing its climate resilient water resources investment strategy and plan, and undertaking a pre-feasibility study for the water transfer as well as a feasibility study for the proposed dam site on Lesotho’s Makhaleng River.

There is an ongoing dialogue between Botswana and Namibia regarding a joint Sea Water Desalination Project. Discussions currently centre on developing a partnership framework on matters of mutual concern for the two countries with a view to cooperating in respect of water infrastructure and sustainable development. Namibia has begun talks with an investor who has proposed a new and less costly process for desalinating water from the Atlantic Ocean.