- Externality risks of paraffin use said to be high
- Study to explore handling and use of paraffin
- BERA notes trend in reduction of suppliers and consumers of paraffin
The sale and use of paraffin, or kerosene as it is also known, is bound to change as the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) embarks on a study on paraffin usage in Botswana with the aim of developing a comprehensive plan that will address issues relating to supply, distribution, pricing and safe use of paraffin in Botswana.
According to the CEO of BERA, Rose Seretse, the energy regulator often launches research into some areas to gather evidence to inform actions to be taken, as well as contribute to the body of knowledge. This research then provides the government and other stakeholders with accurate and concrete understanding of the subject matter.
Speaking at a recent press conference to brief members of the media on the study recently, Seretse explained that the usage of paraffin is common in poor households for cooking and lighting because of affordability of paraffin and low cost of paraffin appliances. However, Seretse said use of paraffin can impact poor households negatively in several ways, including poisoning, respiratory illnesses as a result of indoor air pollution, burns and fires.
Paraffin-related incidences, in particular child paraffin poisoning, have been linked to the failure to pre-package paraffin while the poor design and quality of paraffin stoves have been closely associated with burns and multiple outbreaks of fire in poor households. “The combustion of paraffin has also been closely associated with the health effects of indoor air pollution,” she stated. “The externality costs of paraffin use are high.” According to BERA, the study will also look into unpacking issues relating to the pricing of paraffin as the petroleum product is sold at a very high price in most rural and remote areas.
“Considering issues of distribution and accessibility of the product, the ‘big question’ that stems out is whether the Authority should be enforcing the sale of paraffin in those settlements at the regulated price.” According to data from BERA, there were four suppliers of paraffin in 2013. These reduced to three between 2014 and 2016, further reducing to two companies from 2017 to the present. Furthermore, about 28.2 million litres of paraffin was consumed in 2012 followed by 21.2 million litres and 26.3 million litres in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The volumes drastically reduced to about 9.1 million litres in 2015 and continued a downward trajectory over the years. Consumption figures stood at 2.9 million litres in 2021. “The study will seek to investigate the reasons for this observed trend in reduction of suppliers and demand for paraffin,” Seretse said. The energy regulator added that one of the key objectives of the study will be to look into appetite for alternative energy sources and factors motivating the transition to alternative fuels. Data for the study will be sourced from suppliers and retailers of paraffin with an additional extensive consultation exercise to be carried out to solicit opinions from members of the public, key being those from rural and remote settlements who are the primary consumers of the product.