Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) is working around the clock to ensure reduction of the country's dependence on imports to meet its energy demands.
Botswana has excellent solar conditions with an average of 320 clear, sunny days per year and an average global irradiation of 21 Mj m2/day throughout the country. With the 3,200 hours of sunshine a year, solar power is a natural solution to the power shortages of the country and region.
Recently, the institute embarked on several solar energy projects including the latest Seding Solar Plant, which manufactures solar street lamps aimed at utilising the abundant sunshine that the country has.
According to the Seding Solar Plant Streetlight Supervisor, Nobuhle King, the institute has established an electronics research laboratory in Gaborone, which feeds the manufacturing plant in Kanye that assembles the solar streetlights.
“BITRI has been developing solar street lights since 2016, which are developed by inhouse specialists and then sent to the plant in Kanye for us to develop,” he said.
The institute is currently producing the second version of the street lamps, which charges during the day through the direct sunlight and switches on during the night. According to King, version two is much brighter compared to the first ones that they were producing adding that they can operate from an 11-metre
Further, she noted that the plant has employed 60 people who can produce between 100 and 150 lamps per day depending on the orders that they have. However, she noted that they have plans in place to increase their production as they have been receiving orders even from different stakeholders.
The facilities were considered necessary for ensuring that BITRI continuously meets increasing and changing demands of citizens for the solar streetlight. They shared their dream of seeing the country joining the rest of the world in reducing the national carbon print by adopting green technologies to mitigate effects of climate change, and also minimise electricity generation and distribution costs.
However, government has also generally recognised the potential for renewable energy development in the country, especially in solar energy. Botswana Innovation Hub is also pursuing an initiative to develop solar testing and demonstration facility as the technical feasibility study of the project has already made recommendations on the options of implementing the project and also identified critical stakeholders that need to be involved.