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Power imports to Botswana continues to decline: SB report 

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana has been reducing power imports since 2013, the southern African country’s statistical agency Statistics Botswana (SB) reported on Wednesday.

According to the electricity generation and distribution report for the third quarter of 2018 released on Wednesday, the index of electricity generation has been growing from the first quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2018, said Burton Mguni, the statistician general.

Although it depicts a fluctuating pattern, Mguni said local generation has been growing steadily over the reporting period, and the growth is generally due to the addition of the new power plants.

“Even though there are fluctuations in the physical volume of imported electricity, generally importation of electricity indicates a downward trend,” he said.

Botswana imported 28.7 percent of total electricity distributed during the third quarter.

The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the main source of imports, takes up 82.4 percent of total electricity imports.

Cross-border markets supplied 9.5 percent while 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent were sourced from Eskom of South Africa and Namibia’s Nampower respectively.

The SB indicated that the index of electricity generation stood at 184.3, a decrease of 13.3 percent compared to 212.6 recorded in the same quarter in 2017.

The report attributed much of the decrease to the operational problems at the Morupule B power plant situated in Palapye in Central Botswana.

The power station is a 600MW expansion of the only existing power station of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), the Morupule A power station.

During September, only two out of the four units were in operation. Moreover, none of the emergency power plants were utilized during the third quarter as there was no power shortage.

In Nov. 2018, Stefan Schwarzfischer, chief executive officer of BPC, said two units at Morupule B Power station were operational while unit 4 was undergoing remediation and unit 3 was out of service.



Botswana Central Bank maintains bank rate at five percent

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana’s central bank has maintained the country’s bank rate at 5 percent.

Addressing media on Tuesday, the Bank of Botswana governor Moses Pelaelo said the decision is attributed to current state of the economy and the outlook for both domestic and external economic activities.

He said economic trends suggest that the prevailing monetary policy stance is consistent with maintaining inflation within the objective range of 3 to 6 percent in the medium term.

“Consequently, the Monetary Policy Committee decided to retain the bank rate at five percent,” said Pelaelo.

The governor further said growth is projected to improve in the short to medium term, driven largely by performance in the services sectors and recovery in mining activity, adding that the development is in line with positive global economic prospects.

In addition, the projected accommodative monetary conditions in the domestic economy and increase in government expenditure are expected to support growth of economic activity in the non-mining sectors.


Botswana’s mining index down 4.2 percent in third quarter

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana’s mining production index fell to 87.1 in the third quarter of 2018, posting a year-on-year contraction of 4.2 percent, triggered by the continued slowdown in the diamond mining sector, its statistics office said on Thursday.

In its latest index of the physical volume of mining production, Statistics Botswana announced that the main contributor to the decrease in the index was diamonds, having contributed 4.6 percentage points.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis shows a decrease of about 7 percent from the index of 94.0 during the second quarter of 2018 to 87.1 observed in the reference period, according to the latest figures.

According to the recently released statistics, the diamond production decreased by 4.8 percent during the third quarter of 2018, compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

“The decline came as a result of planned strategy to reduce bulky production in order to align production with trading conditions,” said Burton Mguni, the southern African country’s statistician general.

Mguni said the quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that diamond production declined by 8.4 percent during the third quarter of 2018 compared to the second quarter of the same year.

Since the 2008 world credit crunch, Botswana has struggled to fully recover from the unfavorable trading conditions on the international market, as most buyers slowed down treating diamonds as luxury.


Sixty percent of TB cases are co-infected with HIV in Botswana: minister

GABORONE Botswana, (Xinhua) -- More than 60 percent of Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Botswana are co-infected with HIV, the virus that causes the endemic AIDS, according to Botswana’s assistant health and wellness minister.

Biggie Butale, the assistant minister of Ministry of Health and Wellness, made the revelation on Saturday when delivering a message during the commemoration of the 2018 World AIDS Day at Mochudi village, in the outskirts of Gaborone, Botswana’s capital city.

This year’s commemoration was held under the theme: Know your status and know your viral load.

“In Botswana, Tuberculosis (TB) is largely driven by HIV infection as more than 60 percent of incident TB cases are co-infected with HIV,” said Butale.

According to Butale, TB continues to cause many deaths, especially among people living with the HIV, as it accounts for nine percent of all adult deaths and 40 percent deaths in this group.

It is hence important that strategies employed to control HIV include management and prevention of tuberculosis, he said.

Butale said the national treatment success rate has remained constant at 78 percent over the past few years.

Available information indicated that Botswana recently joined the Global Coalition on HIV Prevention spearheaded by UNAIDS, whose main thrust hinges on key principles of primary prevention, promotion of healthy lifestyles and integration of services to attain universal health.

As part of these commitments, Butale said Botswana continues to adhere to global monitoring and reporting standards of disease trends.

“We are presently conducting a major population-level survey called the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey, which we have this time around combined with Tuberculosis for many scientific and logistical reasons,” he said.

For her part, United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Jacinta Barrins told the 2018 World AIDS Day commemoration that TB is the leading cause of death of people living with HIV, accounting for one in three AIDS related deaths.

“People living with HIV and TB are unaware of their co-infection and therefore not receiving care,” she said. 


Botswana president urges more efforts to end HIV/ AIDS scourge

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Saturday called for intensified efforts to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

In his keynote address to mark the 2018 World AIDS Day commemoration at Mochudi village, about 60 km outside the country’s capital city Gaborone, Masisi said complacency is seemingly reversing the progress made in the fight against the deadly HIV/AIDS.

While there is so much to be grateful for, there is no doubt that complacency has crept in regarding the southern African country’s efforts to fight the endemic disease, Masisi said.

“The fortitude that we showed in yester-years is slowly waning. And the time has now come to reinvigorate our programs and re-energize our individual capabilities to put an end to this scourge,” said Masisi.

With Botswana’s national HIV prevalence rate estimated at 18.5 percent, Botswana is ranked the third highest country globally after its Southern African Development Community (SADC) counterparts in Swaziland and Lesotho.

Furthermore, national HIV incidence rate is about 1.35 percent. New HIV infections in a country of a population of just over 2 million people are estimated to be fluctuating between 10,000 and 14,000 per annum.

According to Masisi, the situation is compounded by recent indications of a surge in new HIV infections, especially among the youth.

He said this challenges Batswana (citizens of Botswana) as a collective to reflect and interrogate that which the country is not doing right.

Masisi said the only indicator that would show that the country is heading the right direction would be the time when zero new infections start to be recorded.

To this end, Masisi urged Batswana to take time as individuals to introspect and be part of this fight so that the beautiful Botswana can be restored to an HIV-free country.


Letshego helps Botswana fight non-communicable diseases

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Pan African financial service provider Letshego listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange has partnered with Primary Care International and government to improve the delivery of non-communicable disease (NCD) healthcare in Botswana.

“Letshego is supporting programs and initiatives that look to build capacity and effective treatment in non-communicable diseases care given the rising statistics in NCD illnesses across Africa’s emerging markets. Diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension are just some of the ailments that provide an increasing challenge to the health and wellness of many communities where Letshego operates,” said Fergus Ferguson, Letshego Botswana’s Chief Executive Officer on Tuesday.

According to Letshego, the collaboration is to increase the benefits of non-communicable diseases care and treatment across the country’s 8 districts.

Local data reports indicate that Botswana’s citizens continue to engage in behaviors that put them at an increasing risk of getting these diseases.

In 2014, a survey that was looking at the burden and risk factors for NCDs showed that 30.6 percent of locals are overweight and obese, whilst 6 percent were either on medicines for diabetes or have elevated blood sugar.

The initiative dubbed ‘Letshego Botswana Healthcare Innovation Programme’ is a 12 months program whose objective is to support and build capacity of health care workers with training aligned with the latest international standards.

The program is one of the 5 regional healthcare programs Letshego Group has launched across its African footprint in the interest of building capacity and reach of effective NCD treatment and care for communities where Letshego operates.


China donates mobile modularized container clinics to Botswana

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has donated seven modularized container clinics to Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

The clinics are equipped with general diagnostic equipment and other basic medical facilities.

Speaking at the handover ceremony on Wednesday, Wang Bangfu, charge d’affaires of Chinese Embassy in Botswana, said it marked a beginning to provide mobile medical services to people in remote areas.

Wang noted that the mobile clinics would help meet medical needs in the rural areas of the southern African country.

He said health cooperation is an important part of the bilateral cooperation and demonstrates the time-honored friendship between China and Botswana.

For his part, Alfred Madigele, Botswana’s health minister, commended China for increasing participation in healthcare initiatives.

“The donation will benefit our people in providing basic healthcare services in areas with no clinics and health posts,” Madigele said, adding that the ministry’s intention is to distribute the clinics to villages with a population less than 20,000.

China and Botswana established diplomatic relations in 1975. China began to send medical teams to Botswana since 1981. For the past 37 years, China has sent 15 medical teams and more than 500 Chinese doctors to Botswana.



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