Botswana (2014)

Degree of reliance on imported energy: 

In 2011, the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) installed capacity supplied a little over 12% (a decrease from 15% in 2010) of the country’s demands while 66% was sourced from South Africa. The rest (22%) was obtained from other providers such as Mozambique’s Hydroelectrically De Cahora Bassa and electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) ( (Ofetotse & Essah,  2012).

Main sources of Energy: 

Total installed electricity capacity (2011):  132 MW
Thermal (mainly coal): 100%

Botswana’s energy sources consist primarily of electricity, fuel wood, Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), petrol, diesel and aviation gas. Solar, biogas and biodiesel constitute a small proportion, about 1%. Fuel wood usage has been declining over the years while LPG and electricity consumption has been on the rise.  This is mainly attributed to the rising level of affluence as well as the increased access to electricity.

Fuel wood continues to play a significant role as an energy source for many households, especially in rural areas. It is the principal energy source used for cooking in 46% of the households nationally; and in 77% of households located in rural areas. This represents a decline from around 90% in 1981 but still significant enough to attract policy attention.

Peak power demand is set to increase from 578 MW in 2012 to 902 MW by 2020, a 56% increase. Peak demand stands at 598 MW with current supply of 392 MW (excluding 200 MW emergency supply from Eskom), resulting in a shortfall of 206 MW.



Extent of the network: 

Rural electrification has been an important component of the national development agenda for Botswana. However, the high cost of rural grid electrification programmes have been a barrier, with the result that in 2005 approximately 17% of the total rural population had access to grid electricity services, compared to 36% in the urban areas.

Current trends in Botswana indicate that 58% of the country’s population had access to electricity in 2012 with a possible 80% by 2016. (Ofetotse & Essah, 2012)

Capacity concerns: 

The overdependence on imports poses threats on the energy security for the future. For instance, Eskom is currently failing to meet its own demands hence electricity supplies to Botswana have had to be cut back (

. In 2008 and 2009, Eskom supplied 350 MW of the country’s electricity but cut back on supply to 250 MW in 2010 and further cut back on supply to 150 MW in 2011 and 2012 ( Therefore, Botswana has had to find other means to meet its demands such as securing other imports from Mozambique (90 MW) ( This shows that relying on imports is erratic and therefore means of producing enough energy for the country locally have to be explored and established. In addition, imported power accounts for 30% of the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) annual expenditure, ( which shows that Botswana is losing out in terms of foreign currency outflows for importation of energy. 

Potential for Renewable Energy: 

Local energy resources considered to be in abundance in Botswana include coal (200 billion tonnes), sunshine (3,200 hrs at 21MJ/m2), biogas (2.2 million cattle, 3 kg dung/LSU/day) and fuel wood (200 tonnes/annum).

Botswana has excellent solar conditions, with an average of 320 clear, sunny days per year and an average global irradiation of 21 MJ m-2/day throughout the country.

With 3,200 hours of sunshine a year, solar power is seen as a natural solution to the power shortages of the country and region. The  pioneering concentrating solar thermal power station project in Jwaneng is at the bankable feasibility study stage (December 2012). The plant would produce 100 MW. The solar thermal power industry is still at an early stage of commercial deployment. The Government is involved in the construction of a 1.3 MW photovoltaic power plant in Phakalane, financed through a Japanese grant of P90 million. The plant was commissioned in 08/2012. It is envisaged that such photovoltaic power plants will eventually be replicated elsewhere in the country.

Government continues its non-grid rural electrification scheme using photovoltaic power which was kicked started in 2006 by the Government and the UN. A subsidiary of BPC, BPC Lesedi is offering home solar systems to rural consumers, as well as other off grid and renewable energy solutions such as solar power photovoltaic products, rechargeable lanterns and improved and financial support.

Biomass & bioenergy
The Botswana National Development Plan 10 (NDP 10) states that there is potential for biofuel production in Botswana using sweet sorghum and Jatropha as feedstocks. The Government is currently focussing on the production of biodiesel. The draft national energy policy states that by 2020, local production of biodiesel will account for 10% of the supply of diesel in the country. (DL Kgathi, 2012) 

Potential for Energy Efficiency: 

Transport is the highest consumer of petroleum products, especially petrol and diesel. Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) and the wider transport policy agenda harbour further opportunities for Botswana’s Green Economy. The statistics on ratio of cars to total number of vehicles and the levels of consumption of petrol are an indication of an unsustainable development path. The scale-up of the public transport system as an alternative to using private cars presents opportunities for an efficient urban transport system in Botswana.

This thinking permeates the draft Botswana Integrated Transport Policy. The options vary from the sophisticated rapid bus transport system to elementary changes such as dedicated lanes for mini buses and increased signage (at bus stops) depicting which bus-route passes where. Barrier studies in other countries have shown that more people use public transport once signage is improved. With signage integrated with branding and advertisement, these can be done through private sector with no costs to the municipalities. The current revision of the Road Construction Manual is also an opportunity ensure that NMT facilities are integrated into the manual. Settlement planning has been identified as a barrier to the adoption of NMT as in the Botswana context, it promotes sprawl thus as identified in other cities, making travelling too long for NMT, i.e. in excess of 10 km. The National Development Plan for 2010-2016 targets decentralising some transport functions to local authorities to allow for increased focus on such elements as non-motorised transport.


Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is the state owned company for electrical power generation, transmission and distribution in Botswana. It was established in 1970 and is currently the only electricity supplier in the country.

Structure / extent of competition: 

In 2007 the government amended the energy supply act to facilitate the participation of independent power producers in the electricity sector. There are plans to restructure the elec¬tricity supply industry in Botswana in accordance with the country’s membership in the Southern Africa Power Pool.

BPC is the state-owned vertically integrated national power utility with a monopoly. There are currently no specific plans to unbundle the power utility. BPC is cur¬rently expanding its coal-fired generating capacity by about 1,200 MW to compensate for the downturn in availability of power imports from South Africa. The first 600 MW is scheduled to start coming on-stream in 2012–13, according to BPC.

Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy: 

Main policies concerning energy sector are Vision 2016, National energy policy, Botswana Energy Master Plan (1996, reviewed 2003):

  • Target is to reach 80% national power access and 60% rural access by 2016
  • Improved access, security and reliability of energy supply to all sectors of the economy, particularly the low income and marginalized;
  • Effective institutional arrangement and governance for the energy sector;
  • Improved capacity for service delivery for all key stakeholders in the energy delivery chain
  • Improved availability of energy information for policy and planning;
  • Minimized energy related environmental, safety and health impacts;
  • Strengthened energy trade and cooperation for enhanced energy security and reduction in costs;
  • Improved energy efficiency for all energy sources in all sectors for economy, increased security and environmental protection;
  • An effective and sustainable energy research and development program that addresses the country’s energy development priorities;
  • Effective private sector participation and investment at all levels in the energy sector.

The National Energy Policy has a target of providing 80% access to the country as a whole and 60% access in rural areas by 2016. It aims at improved access, security, and reliability of energy supply to all sectors of the economy, particularly the low income and marginalized through effective institutional arrangement and service delivery.  Botswana’s Vision 2016 recognizes the potential role that solar energy can play in meeting the energy requirements of rural communities not served by the national grid. The Government of Botswana has implemented several strategies to advance the use of renewable energy in Botswana. These include renewable energy feed-in tariffs (REFIT) to encourage greater private sector investment in renewable energy technologies. (Pachauri, R.K., 2013).

The Renewable Energy Based Rural Electrification Programme for Botswana (RE  Botswana) is a major programme that was implemented under an agreement between  the Government of Botswana and Global Environment Facility (GEF) managed by  United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The objective of the programme is to reduce Botswana’s energy related carbon dioxide (emissions and promoting renewable and low greenhouse gas (technologies as a substitute for fossil fuel utilized in rural areas. (Pachauri, R.K., 2013).

Current energy debates or legislation: 

Energy has become a core sector for Botswana especially with Botswana’s plan to become a net exporter of electricity. It is anticipated that up to $750 million will flow as investment into the electricity industry over the next five years (2012). Government is in the process of reviewing its energy policy and its electricity regulatory framework, the revised Energy Policy is still at drafting stage.

Electricity tariffs were increased by 7%-10% for households and 7%-20% for business and government users in April 2013. Even after this tariff increase and the significant increases in 2010 and 2011, Government continues to subsidize the cost per unit of electricity by providing revenue support to BPC. BPC tariffs are currently not cost-reflective. A consortium has been appointed to establish an independent Botswana Energy and Water Regulatory Agency (BEWRA), its main purposes will include a turnaround of BPC and to ensure a more cost effective tariff structure, as well as to attract private sector investment into the electricity sector.

The use of renewable energy at present is minimal in Botswana but the Government has started to develop a low carbon energy portfolio, as well as the country’s National Development Plan (NDP 10) aims to see an increase of renewable energy usage of 15% by 2015 and 25% by 2030.

Major energy studies: 

BPC represents Botswana in the Southern African Power Pool. The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) was created with the primary aim to provide reliable and economical electricity supply to the consumers of each of the SAPP members, consistent with the reasonable utilisation of natural resources and the effect on the environment.

Role of government: 

The decisions on energy policy are split between two ministries: namely the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water (MMEWR) and the Ministry of the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) and within it the Department of Meteorological Services. MMEWR are responsible for national energy policy.

Institutionally, the management of fuel wood resources straddles these two ministries; The MEWT role is that of conservation and sustainable use while that of MMEWR is provision of energy services. The two functions have ample area for fruitful collaboration though currently not evident. Vis-à-vis information management, the MEWT is mandated with preparing inventory of the resource and its management. The MMWER is mandated with consumption rates and patterns, and technologies that improve efficient utilisation. Both these elementary records are several years out of date.

Government agencies in sustainable energy: 

Within MMEWR, the Energy Affairs Division formulates, directs and coordinates the national energy policy and related programmes, and facilitates the availability of efficient, reliable, affordable and good quality energy services. The organisation is committed to improving accessibility and quality of energy services, reducing costs and protecting the environment in order to promote social and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Energy planning procedures: 


Energy regulator Date of creation: 

The Botswana Energy and Water Regulatory Agency (BEWRA), in the process of being established, is an independent regulator that will hopefully meet the power and water challenges faced by the country. The hope is that it will draw in more private sector funding, which is needed to build up the infrastructure in order for Botswana to be self-sufficient and progressive.

Degree of independence: 


Regulatory framework for sustainable energy: 


Regulatory roles: 

The government regulates the power sector through the Energy Affairs Division of the Ministry of Minerals, Energy, and Water Resources, which monitors BPC. There are currently no specific plans to unbundle the power utility.

Role of government department in energy regulation: 


Regulatory barriers: 

It could be argued that the existing legal / policy structure is not particularly conducive to the implementation of RE. One example of these non-conducive barriers is the relatively weak environmental regulation in Botswana, which fails to provide much incentive to use energy systems that are based on renewable energy sources. For example, the existing legislation in respect of air pollution is so weak that it offers no incentive for the use of low-GHG technology.


Ofetotse, Eng L. &  Essah, Emmanuel A. (2012): ENERGY OVERVIEW OF BOTSWANA: GENERATION  AND CONSUMPTION  Available at file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/osito/My%20Documents/Downloads/ofetotse%20and%20essah-energy%20overview%20of%20botswana.pdf Accessed 1st March

Capital Resources (2013): BOTSWANA RESOURCE SECTOR OVERVIEW 2013/14 Available at Accessed 1st March

Kgathi, DL (2011): Potential impacts of biofuel development on food security in Botswana: A contribution to energy policy. Energy Policy (2012), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2011.12.027

KPMG (2014): Infrastructure regulation in Africa: Botswana. Available at Accessed 1st March

Pachauri, R.K. (ed. en chief) (2013): International Case Study Green Growth and Development Quarterly • Volume 1•Issue 4• July 2013 Available at  Accessesd 1st March

Vagliasindi, M. & Jones, J. (2013): Power Market Structure: Revisiting Policy Options Available at  Accessed 27th February

FUS (2011):  BOTSWANA & RENEWABLE ENERGY Available at  Accessed 27th February

UNDP (2012): Energy Policy Brief Reflecting on the Challenges of Attaining a Green Economy for Botswana Available at Accessed 27th February

Southern Africa Power Pool Available at  Accessed 27th February