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Bio-Watt’s brilliant boss

Bio-Watt's brilliant boss
LEADING THE INDUSTRY: BIO-WATT Charcoal

Meet the boss

  • Young engineer brings new energy

Equipped with an education from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and fuelled by a burning desire to make a difference, Obuile Morewane founded Bio-Watt Botswana in 2018.

Still just 29 years old, Morewane, who hails from Shoshong, is fast becoming a leading light in the battle to solve the country’s energy struggles.

Best known for their charcoal and briquettes products, which are available in 4kg packages, Bio-Watt Botswana also offer services in solar off grid systems, solar water pumping, energy consultancy, biogas systems and air conditioning installation and maintenance.

Their factory, located in Kweneng District’s Gakuto village, has a monthly production capacity for 20 tonnes with a workforce sitting at 19 employees, the majority being youth.

Who is Obuile Morewane?

I am a researcher, an author and practicing Energy Systems engineer. I studied BEng Energy Systems Engineering at BIUST.

And you are also the founder of Bio-Watt Botswana! Tell us a bit about the company and how it started?

Bio-Watt Botswana came about from energy shortage struggles faced by Batswana especially in rural areas.

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I grew up in Shakawe, where firewood was a primary source of energy. This challenged me to come up with energy solutions to address challenges faced by our country.

So immediately after I finished my energy degree, I started the company to offer renewable energy solutions and products.

Please go on…

Energy shortage, poor waste management, impacts of climate change and global warming, unemployment particularly amongst the youth and opportunities available inspired me to start this company.

I found a challenge in our society and I set on a mission to solve it.

When was this?

Bio-Watt Botswana was legally incorporated in July 2018, that was a year after my university graduation.

Our first product, which was portable biogas systems, entered the market in June 2018, followed by our flagship product Bio-Watt Charcoal, which hit shelves in mid 2019.

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Before that, where were you doing career wise?

I worked with TM Energy Management Contractors, as an energy auditor, and left to join Bofedile Tech Solutions (BTS) where I worked as an Energy Engineer.

I worked for both organisations for a short period of time and left to establish Bio-Watt Botswana.

What products and services does Bio-Watt offer?

Bio-Watt Botswana is an energy company offering renewable energy solutions from solar systems, waste to energy (Biogas), Biomass charcoal and briquettes, activated charcoal, grey water systems and other solutions.

That’s a wide array of services, how do you manage to diversify?

Yes! We have quite a number of services and we are able to manage all of them because they are in the same area or category of energy and the environment.

This is also made possible by the wonderful team behind Bio-Watt Botswana.

You’re primarily associated with your charcoal products, how are they performing in the retail space and in which shops can it be found?

Bio-Watt Charcoal or ‘Magala a Botswana’ as it is affectionately known is doing very well in the market.

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It is available in various retail outlets such as selected Choppies stores, Engen, Caltex and Puma filling stations, Saverites country wide and tuck shops.

Bio-Watt's brilliant boss

BUSINESS MINDED: Obuile Morewane

Take us through the production process of your charcoal.

Bio-Watt Charcoal is from a process of carbonization, in which organic material regarded as waste is collected from different points and delivered to the factory.

It will be then cut into a manageable size and loaded into a state of the art furnace fitted with emission capture and heat recovery.

After eight hours, the process will be complete and the charcoal will be allowed to cool for two days. After cooling, packaging follows and it goes to the market.

What kind of waste do you use?

We use organic waste such as vegetation cut along road reserves, under power lines, telephone lines and other areas .Recently we have been collecting along the North South Carrier pipeline.

It is easy to find organic waste material because every day there is a project which comes up and it means vegetation has to be cleared to give room.

One raw material we are using is cow dung and it is abundant locally since most people rear cattle.

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We mix it with wood chippings and grass and compress them, from there we allow it to dry and load in the carbonizer.

We are living in an era where many advocate for the use of green energy – any major milestones in that area, more especially in solar?

Solar energy is currently gaining a lot of momentum and as Bio-Watt Botswana we are part of this. To date we have done 27 residential solar systems across Botswana, 32 solar water pumping systems with 98.1 percent success rate.

Currently, we are working with another local company to install a 75Kw solar system. Our biggest milestone is an engagement by Africa One Limited as a technical partner in designing of implementation of a 1200Mw solar farm in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Impressive stuff! You are also into biogas systems, where did you get the experience for this since it’s something new in Botswana?

Biogas is one system I am passionate about; in fact it was my final year project at BIUST. Since then I have always been passionate about it because of its potential in our country.

What challenges does Bio-Watt Botswana face?

We face challenges like lack of local standards especially in charcoal; we have to use South African standards. Lack of incentives and misinformation about renewable energy are further hiccups we encounter.

One other major challenge we face is lack of land to set up permanent infrastructure for business.

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Last year you took part in Global Expo Dubai, kindly share the experience, any lessons learnt?

The experience was amazing! We managed to meet and connect with potential customers, retailers, partners and present our products to the world.

From the Expo, I did learn that when it comes to business development, infrastructure such as roads, electricity and telecommunication are key and we need to invest more on that as African countries.

You were also visible at the Global Expo Botswana earlier this month, how did this benefit you?

We managed to present our services and solutions to Batswana, meet up with other local businesses and talked more on partnerships and working together to diversity our economy.

Any new line of products you want to introduce or are currently developing?

We are currently doing testing on Bio-Watt Firelighters, briquettes stoves and Biogas De-scrubbers, all these products are expected to enter the market mid 2023.

How has the #PushaBW campaign helped you as a local company?

This campaign is really assisting most local businesses. It encourages Batswana to buy local products and to us this has been amazing since Batswana prefer our charcoal over any other that is coming outside, they take pride in it.

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What does the future hold for Bio-Watt Botswana?

The future is bright for Bio-Watt Botswana. We have a line of products coming up and big partnerships with major institutions, the global energy access present a great opportunity for our business.

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