Speaking during the Water, Food, and Energy (WEF) Nexus Dialogue in Gaborone, Botswana on Friday, 29 July, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs in Botswana, Mr. NchidziMmolawasaid while the Southern African region is the most dynamic and economically attractive region of the continent, challenges such as water scarcity, limited energy resources, and poor food production continue to derail the economic development of the region.Mr. Nchidzi Mmolawa said: “It was imperative to step up actions to counter these challenges.”
Botswana Deputy Permanent Secretary for Water officially opened the meeting
Among the achievements of SADC nations which have caught the attention of the wider world are rapid economic growth, a vigorously expanding population, and advanced technological development, set alongside the unique and appealing nature and culture of our region. On the other hand, it could be said that these seemingly positive factors have posed problems, in rendering SADC people vulnerable to sudden and sometimes drastic environmental and political changes.
Mr. Nchidzi Mmolawa said anyone browsing articles about SADC countries will come across often-repeated topics such as water scarcity and limited energy resources, including land degradation, poor soils for food production, deforestation, and effects of Climate Change. These issues present challenges to Governments in the SADC region, who must try to relieve, or prevent, the frictions and tensions generated by failure to adapt to effects of climate change.
Senior Programme Officer of the SADC Energy Division, Mr. Moses Ntlamelle said integrated planning of water, food, and energy sectors and promoting regional cooperation have been considered by SADC as strategies to meet targets in the three sectors to improve natural resource use efficiencies in the region.
Mr. Ntlamelle said, “The SADC Secretariat recognizes the important role of the nexus approach in accelerating and implementing sustainable investments at the national and regional level. This approach allows not only the identification of possible trade-offs, but also synergies, whereby an investment in one sector benefits the others. Under the second phase of this project, we are having these WEF Nexus national dialogues aimed at identifying national WEF nexus priorities and showcasing the benefits of how improved sectoral coordination can accelerate national investment opportunities.”
Senior Programme Officer of the SADC Energy Division, Mr. Moses Ntlamelle
Apart from identifying WEF Nexus national priorities, stakeholders in the three sectors are expected to establish a technical working group to facilitate continuous WEF engagements in Botswana.
During the meeting, SADC committed to continue to work with other partners and member states to ensure that efforts are made to mobilise resources for implementing the projects identified from the dialogue.
With funding from the European Union, the SADC Secretariat is leading a multi-sector and stakeholder driven process in adopting the WEF Nexus approach in Southern Africa, through the SADC WEF Nexus Regional Dialogues Project. The project is being implemented by the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa(GWPSA) on behalf of the SADC Secretariat.
Mr. José Becerra, Deputy Head of Cooperation EU in SADC, commended the government of Botswana on its utilisation of solar energy to augment the 40% of its energy imported from South Africa.
"Solar power is the cleanest source of energy and is abundant in Botswana. The country has the potential to become the continent’s solar powerhouse exporting solar energy to the region,” he said.
He added that solar energy is set to become a major driver of the country’s economy, alongside tourism and diamond mining.
Mr. José Becerra, giving remarks on behalf of the EU
Making a presentation on the SADC Nexus Regional DialoguePhase II and linkages to investment opportunities, GWPSA SDG Water Investments Specialist Mrs. Shamiso Kumbirai-Mlilwana, said, “The goal is to leverage $50-60 million in investments to strengthen the application of the WEF Nexus approach within the SADC region.
Through the SADC WEF Nexus National Dialogues, countries are identifying priority national WEF Nexus investment opportunities requiring support to accelerate investments and establishing national WEF Nexus technical working groups to support integration of nexus into select prioritized opportunities.”
She said GWPSA will provide technical support for project preparation or investment proposal development for prioritised projects.
The WEF Nexus National Dialogues are being held across SADC countries.