The Director-General Support Services, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Major General M. M. Seikano has promised to collaborate with the Botswana SOLTRAIN team on installing pilot solar water heating systems in various camps and barracks of the Botswana Defence Force. He made this promise during an information workshop organised by the Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC), University of Botswana. As a follow-up, the BDF and CERC also set up a joint project implementation task team mandated with realising this objective.
The workshop had over 22 top military officers of BDF in attendance and a SOLTRAIN team comprising the two project partners in Botswana – Clean Energy Research Centre, University of Botswana and Solar Industries Association of Botswana (SIAB). Major General Seikano noted that the BDF expends significant resources to provide hot water to its soldiers, and therefore welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with SOLTRAIN in harnessing solar energy for this purpose.
Earlier in his speech, the leader of the SOLTRAIN delegation, Dr Olefile Molwane, Deputy Dean Faculty of Engineering and Technology University of Botswana, reiterated the existing cooperation between the University of Botswana and Botswana Defence Force. He noted that the visit is a further step towards deepening existing relations and finding common ground that can benefit BDF, particularly in the use of renewable energy.
In his presentation, the Botswana SOLTRAIN project Manager, Prof Kevin N. Nwaigwe, outlined the existing SOLTRAIN programme for the installation of demonstration projects. He informed the military officials of the possibilities of collaboration in the installation of solar thermal systems which could receive a subsidy of up to 50% under the SOLTRAIN programme, funded by the Austrian Development Agency. He also emphasized the need to act speedily before the conclusion of the fourth phase of the programme at the end of 2022. The BDF officers also had the opportunity to get clarification on various areas of interest pertaining to the SOLTRAIN subsidy.
Following a decision by the BDF command to participate in the demonstration project, a follow-up meeting was held at BDF Village in early December where project sites were identified. Visits were also paid to existing installations within Gaborone, including Maruapula School and Avani hotel. The BDF and UB CERC have also set up a joint project implementation team to ensure the actualisation of the project. This follows the approval of the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force Headquarters.
This promising collaboration has the potential to significantly reduce energy costs for the BDF as well as contribute to its greening efforts.