Mawana — The over P2.3 billion North West transmission grid connection project will add value to Botswana's development path and most importantly reduce the power import bill, says President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Officially opening phase one of the project in Mawana, some 20km from Maun yesterday, President Masisi said energy security remained one of government's top priorities as it would accelerate implementation of the national transformational agenda.
The project, expected to connect the North West, Chobe and Ghanzi districts, would fast track implementation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan approved by Parliament last year, he said.
Dr Masisi said it would provide reliable power to mining operations in the three districts.
"I am happy to note that significant benefits of the infrastructure were already being felt in the North West region. For instance, Khoemacau Copper Mine located in the heartland of Ngamiland which I officially opened in 2019 is now connected to the transmission grid," he said.
As a result, the mine was no longer dependent on diesel-powered generators as was previously the case, he added.
Through the project, government had also electrified the newly constructed Shakawe hospital, a facility that would improve provision of health services in the Okavango Sub-district, he said.
President Masisi said the project was also expected to boost the tourism sector and thus contribute to employment creation.
Government, he said, was determined to develop the necessary infrastructure in order to fulfill its promise of providing villages, towns and cities with reliable electricity.
Describing the project as a demonstration of government's commitment towards ensuring energy security across Botswana, the President said it was one of the country's major power infrastructure projects.
He noted that it was completed on time and within budget despite interruptions and economic hardships the country continued to experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Masisi expressed confidence that with the commissioning of the first phase, stage two construction would commence soon to connect Kasane to the Phokoje substation in Selebi-Phikwe through Dukwi in order to accelerate socio-economic development in the mentioned areas.
The second phase, he explained, would further advance development of Agricultural Special Economic Zones in the Pandamatenga area and support government efforts to pump water from the Zambezi River to other parts of the country for agricultural and potable purposes.
He assured the gathering that despite the hardships and challenges, government would keep its promises and implement priorities set to transform Botswana into a digital economy.
"That is why were are vigorously pursuing the electrification of our villages through the Rural Village Electrification Programme. This will drive our National Vision 2036 aspirations which seek among others, to develop appropriate infrastructure for economic diversification," he said.
President Masisi encouraged Batswana to make use of the power supply available in their area by setting up businesses that would create jobs especially for the youth and eventually discourage people from relocating in search of employment opportunities.
He commended all who had played a critical role in the project particularly those involved in its execution.
The President recognised the involvement of citizen sub-contractors in the project saying 34.32 per cent in citizen empowerment against the minimum 30 per cent target set by the National Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy was achieved.
He stated that ensuring inclusion and effective participation of people in the development of Botswana remained one of government's cornerstones adding that going forward the minimum citizen empowerment threshold would be increased to 60 per cent.
President Masisi thanked the Ngamiland leadership and community for supporting the project.
Source : BOPA