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Botswana’s power crisis: How a blackout exposed the need for energy diversification

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A midnight grid disturbance on Monday plunged Botswana into darkness, leaving the nation without electricity for hours. The incident affected the country’s only major power plant, Morupule, as well as the transmission line that connects it to South Africa. The blackout revealed the fragility of Botswana’s energy system, which depends heavily on imported power and fuel.

Botswana received assistance from Eskom, South Africa’s troubled power utility, which supplied up to 347 MW of electricity to help Botswana restart its grid. However, this was a temporary solution, as Eskom itself is struggling with its own load shedding and infrastructure problems. Botswana also imports electricity from Zambia, but these sources are not always available or affordable.

Botswana has an opportunity to diversify its energy mix and reduce its reliance on imports. The country has abundant solar and wind resources, as well as biomass from woody vegetation. Botswana also has coal reserves that could be used for power generation or coal-to-liquids production. However, these options require significant investments, policy reforms, and environmental safeguards. Botswana also needs to improve its energy efficiency, demand management, and grid stability. By addressing these challenges, Botswana could enhance its energy security, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

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