Lights Out

By Dianne Lake

Upon our arrival to Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana, it was clear that we wouldn’t be having any problems with too much “hustle and bustle.” Botswana is a small country, approximately 2 million people, and it is a country filled with beautiful stretches of land, natural waterfalls and deltas, and a diverse range of wildlife.  We’ve been told that Botswana is the kind of place where two people will get into an accident and still be very cordial with each other. The Batswana will do whatever it takes to avoid conflict. The environment here is bursting with energy but it seems as if the energy in the people and the government is lacking, figuratively and literally.

After a week of interviews the opinions we have gathered all run along the same lines. Botswana is in a slow and imminent decline, and the area in which it shows the most is in the growing lack of electricity. The diamond revenue which launched Botswana onto the world stage is slowing running out, and a time will come where there will be no more diamonds.

When the diamonds brought a boom of profit to the economy, the aspects of Botswana that took a major hit where it’s productivity and sustainability; so much money in such a small nation, previously in poverty, breeds inefficiency and carelessness. Botswana has one of the world’s greatest coal reserves, but rather than spending time and effort building power plants, the majority of their power was, and is still, bought from South Africa. Botswana also has great potential to harness solar power, receiving an impressive amount of sunlight year round, but that is also something that would take time and effort that the government isn’t keen on utilizing.

It has now reached a point where it’s almost a little too late. Diamond money is running out, power outages are becoming a nuisance, and there doesn’t seem to be enough money or motivation within the government to build their own power plants, and even the thought of solar panels is barely being considered. With so much beauty and natural resources, one can only be hopeful that the people of Botswana will wake up and realize that they still have great potential to light things up.

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