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taps into Lesotho Project
24 November 2015
Botswana has finalised a deal with South Africa and
Lesotho to tap some of the water from the Lesotho
Highlands Water Project.
Botswana’s Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water
Resources Minister, Onkodame Kitso Mokaila confirmed
this at a conference in Gaborone on the diamond
The aim of the conference, organised by the diamond
giant De Beers, London’s Chatham House think tank
and the Botswana government, is to discover how
Botswana can diversify its economy beyond the
diamond industry which is the mainstay of the
Mokaila said that one of the constraints on
diversification and beneficiation of the economy
with new industry was the country’s water shortage.
He described various projects which were being
explored or undertaken to address the problem,
including tapping water from the Zambezi River.
And another was the three-nation deal to tap into
the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which is a joint
venture between Lesotho and South Africa through
which Lesotho sells excess water to South Africa.
Mokaila stressed that the agreement was a “done
deal” and it was now just a matter of drawing up a
plan and a design to implement the agreement. A
pre-feasibility study was now being conducted.
He said that all three countries were part of the
Orange River system “and so we all decided to work
He said that Lesotho had a lot of water in its
mountains. “You can put a dam anywhere in the
country and you will get water.”
Tapping Lesotho’s water would “make a huge
difference especially to the south of the country”,
the minister said.
Asked how soon Botswana would tap the water, he said
“as soon as possible” was the message which the
three governments involved had told their officials
who met last week to negotiate the deal.
The next steps were to come together to draw up a
plan and design, and look at the impact on the
communities along the route, and the environmental
impact. “So that’s as fast as we can move, making
sure all that is done.”
He emphasised that the decision among South Africa,
Lesotho and Botswana had been finalised. “It’s a
Keith Jefferis, managing director of Econsult and
former deputy governor of the Bank of Botswana, said
that it seemed likely that Botswana would transfer
the water from Gauteng rather than directly from
But however Botswana got the water, “by the time it
gets here it will be damned expensive”. However, he
said it was likely it would be cheaper than getting
water from the Zambezi River, the other major
project which the government had embarked on.
Jefferis, though, said South Africa should not fear
that Botswana would deprive it of water. Lesotho had
more than enough to supply Botswana’s small
Banks in Lesotho
Banks in SA