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Human trafficking still Africas billion Dollar industry

The United Nations 2019 Human Trafficking report shows that Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa is a global player in this crisis. The report shows that while most African countries how have proper laws in place, some countries do not use these laws and report no investigations and no prosecutions.

One study quoted by the UN report estimated that 357 million children lived in conflicts areas in 2016. Every one of them would have been at risk of exploitation by armed groups or other traffickers. According to the report, Africa is home to armed conflicts, government corruption and extreme poverty. Consequently, many people are living in or seeking to escape these conditions. By trying to get out of the continent to a better place, the report stressed that these people face a high risk of human trafficking. Large, profitable networks of human traffickers often go on uninterrupted because of the disunity between African countries.

There are 9.2 million Africans that are victims of modern slavery as of 2016, accounting for 23 per cent of total global modern slavery, the report said. Africans are vulnerable to forced labor, sexual exploitation and forced marriages. It underlined that human trafficking in Africa is a 13.1 Billion US Dollar industry. Out of this number, 8.9 Billion comes from sexual exploitation, adding that victims of sex trafficking yield 21.8 US Dollars each due to high demand, so even while forced labor has three times more victims, sexual exploitation generates more than double the profits.

Furthermore, no African country completely complies with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, minimum standards for fighting human trafficking, the report alleged. It designated that twenty-two African countries fall under Tier 2 that acknowledges that significant efforts are being made towards improvement and 19 countries fall under Tier2’s watch list, indicating that not enough progress has been made in the country. Nine countries, eight of which are not considered free, fall under Tier 3, where significant efforts have not yet been made.

UN organization said forty per cent of girls are married before they turn 18, with that number being even higher in some countries such as Nigeria and Chad. Forced marriage is, unfortunately, a cultural norm, leaving girls susceptible to domestic and sexual violence as well as serious health risks. The report further highlighted that these girls are also in the risk of being trafficked. Poverty and a lack of education perpetuate its cultural acceptance, making it harder for police to identify and help victims.

Armed conflicts throughout the continent make children vulnerable to be trafficked and to becoming child soldiers, the UN said. In the Central Africa Republic six thousand children were forced into military. With many African countries sharing this reality, Africa accounts for 40 per cent of all child soldiers in the world. The reckless and easily influenced nature of children makes them easy targets for traffickers, who view them as expendables, the report emphasized.

It further stressed that human trafficking in Africa especially of children and women is facilitated by the cultural climate. With child labor being widely accepted, many parents living in poverty consider it an option when they cannot afford to raise their children. Many traffickers are close family or friends, so parents view the exchange as sending their children away for a while in order to make money. The report also indicated that other parents may view trafficking as people who enable their children to do work in order to prepare for married life or adulthood.

Libya has been named as a destination where majority of human trafficking takes place. Migrants attempting to reach Europe through Libya in order to escape the turmoil in their home country are especially vulnerable, the report claims. It underlined that elaborate trafficking networks stretch throughout Libya from Sub-Saharan states and traffickers target migrants on these routes with false and misleading job offers before pushing them into forced labor or sexual exploitation.

According to the UN report, human trafficking in Africa is able to flourish partly because of minimal interstate cooperation in response to major trafficking rings. Currently, the report said, some states do succeed in identifying individual perpetrators, but often fail to dismantle the wide networks of traffickers that across state borders. Eradicating human trafficking requires coordinated efforts, especially that of international police.

Despite all the bad things, slow progress is still being made. The amount of African countries in TVPA’s third tier has decreased since 2015. Many countries strengthened the persecution of traffickers and six countries developed better anti-human trafficking laws. Regardless of whether armed conflict was involved or not, more than half of Sub-Saharan victims of trafficking were children, with boys and girls nearly equal. East Africa involved a far larger proportion of adults who were trafficked, while Southern Africa involved more women.

Girls are rarely detected in East and Southern Africa, whereas in West Africa, they are the most frequently detected victim profile. The report indicated that Nigeria reported a particularly large number of girl victims, while Kenyan authorities reported many victims who were men.Traffickers were usually male, but Sub-Saharan Africa stood out from other regions because of the larger number of female offenders.

Globally, most countries reported more male offenders than female, but Mauritius reported more prosecutions of women than men. At the end of 2017, 25 suspected traffickers had been arrested in Botswana. Of these, 60 per cent were men from Botswana and Malawi. The rest were from other Sub-Saharan countries and from the Caribbean.

The report said during the same period, 30 adults and children were identified as victims of trafficking in Botswana. Most of them were citizens of Malawi and the rest came from other Sub-Saharan countries. Adult forced labor made up 77% of the victims, child forced labor 10% and child sex trafficking the remaining 13%.

 Meanwhile, the US State Department put out its own global report on trafficking earlier in 2018, categorizing countries according to how nearly they fulfilled minimum standards for eliminating trafficking. Zimbabwe was categorized as a country that does not meet the minimum standards but that is making significant efforts to do so. However, the 2018 report said that the government did not show increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

 The report critized Zimbabwe’s laws on trafficking, saying the offence were characterized as a movement-based crime’ and that it did not adequately define ‘exploitation’. Forced labor was criminalized, but prescribed penalties of up to two years which is not tough enough. Just two possible cases of forced labor were investigated in Zimbabwe during the period of the report, compared with more than 70 in the previous period. And although there was a special police Victim Friendly Unit, responsible for investigating cases involving women and children, the unit was ‘largely inactive’ and did not report investigating any trafficking case during the year.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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