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Proceedings of the National Policy Seminar on Energy for Rural Development


Buti Mogotsi

Executive Summary

According to the Botswana Annual Economic Report (2000) about 50.8% of the population of Botswana resides in rural areas. The majority of the rural population depends on biomass, mainly in the form of fuelwood to meet their energy requirements.  An estimated 85.7% of the rural population use fuelwood for cooking.  Only 0.03% and 1.9% of the rural households used electricity for cooking and lighting respectively in a 1993/94 survey (HIES, 1993/94).  This shows a high dependence on fuelwood, which has a very high potential for degradation of the natural environment.

Like other developing countries in Africa, Botswana is faced with the challenge of providing adequate and modern energy services to its rural communities in an effort to improve their standard of living through increased potential for income and employment generation.  The relatively low-income levels in rural areas make the provision of modern energy services unaffordable to most communities.  Although low energy consumption is not considered to be a cause of poverty and energy itself not a basic human need, lack of energy has been shown to correlate closely with many poverty indicators (WEC, 1999).

Recent literature suggests that rural households and rural-based enterprises progress up the “energy ladder” or switch to modern fuels as incomes increase. Income is perceived to be the most important determinant factor in the type of energy consumed although other factors such as access and information could be equally important.

This seminar is the first of series of annual national policy seminars to be conducted in countries participating in the current AFREPREN/FWD research studies. These seminars are to provide useful platform to disseminate AFREPREN/FWD research findings and also solicit policy makers’ views on issues national interest. Such views are to form the basis for formulating future research issues. The seminar attracted 26 participants involved in the various aspects of energy, rural development and the environment. The participants were drawn from government, parastatals, NGOs and the private sector. The seminar was held over two days, the first day being devoted to presentations on the various energy sub-sectors followed by group discussions and formulation of recommendations on the second day.

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