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11kV Supplies to Gaborone's new CBD, Botswana

Mott MacDonald was owner’s engineer for the installation of 11kV reticulation cables. The new cables allowed our client, Botswana Power Corporation, to provide service connections to the new Gaborone central business district.

Men digging trenches
Manual digging of trenches in Gaborone's new business district
Manual digging of trenches in Gaborone's new business district Excavation of cable trenches using machines was restricted to minimise damage to in-place services.

As owner’s engineer, we provided design, tender preparation and evaluation, contract management, construction monitoring, client liaison and technical support.

Key facts

  • At the start of our involvement, the new Gaborone central business district already had demarcated plots and some basic services, such as water, sewage and roads.
  • Electricity to the district was required for the developers to be able to start constructing buildings.
  • The district land stretches across approximately 1.5sq km.
  • Our scope of services covered the design, installation and commissioning of single core 300sq mm and 240sq mm and three-core 11kV power and fibre-optic cables.


  • The cable routes to be selected constituted various possible permutations in the plethora of plots, streets and other services.
  • The cable routes to connect the main substations intersected a major railway line and major road crossings. Installation works had to be performed with minimal disruptions to the district’s traffic.
  • There was the threat of damaging other services previously installed.


  • We had to determine the optimum cable routes that covered all the plots.
  • Sleeves were put under the road/railway and the cables were fed through to the other side on all road and rail crossings using thrust boring techniques.
  • Close coordination with other service providers was essential and manual digging was implemented where there was danger of damaging other services when excavating cable trenches.

Value and benefits

  • Our use of spare cable ducts on rail and road crossing points allowed for future additions and replacement of cables with minimum disruption to traffic in the district.
  • Hand digging saved money by not damaging and disrupting the services already in place.
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