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Air Botswana on Re-Fleeting and Cash Flow problems

The national airline, Air Botswana has explained the process which unfolded relating to its Re-Fleeting exercise which saw the acquisition two ATR 72-600 aircrafts as well as Embraer Jet.

The process was set in motion by a President Directive CAB 6 (A)/2018 which then mandated the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) to acquire two ATR 72-600 turbo props aircraft for Air Botswana on behalf of the Government at a cost of BWP 290 million. 
The Presidential Directive was following a recommendation from MTC/Air Botswana in pursuance of the IATA Turnaround Strategy/Business Plan.

The equipment recommendation was on the basis of competitive bidding process between 3 international aircraft manufacturers being ATR, Bombardier and Embraer.  The process was all times in compliance with the Corporation Procurement Processes, which are in line with Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, according to a communique airline.

The airline contends that the ATR offer was attractive as it included trade-in of the existing ATR trade models for a new generation ATR Turbo prop. Bombardier offered solutions for both the Turbo Prop and the Jet, being Q400 and CRJ900 respectively, whereas Embraer proposed solutions for the Jet (E-Jets series), which was deemed fit for purpose, and in line with the re-fleeting aspiration of the Corporation.  As a result of the options presented before airline, the choice was therefore ATR (Turbo Prop) and Embraer (Jets).

“The Re-fleeting (Fleet modernisation) Project was supported by IATA through various seconded consultants, which included Mr Robert Menzies, Mr Hanspeter Baserga and Mr Chris Hudson,” Air Botswana said in a statement. “Management received offers for a Jet from Oman Air for a E175, valued at US$18.5m, and was active in pursuit of the deal when a US based aircraft leasing company EIC, two 2010 EI70 model aircrafts on the market for a combined value of US$22m the Air Botswana board resolved to pursue the EIC offer subject to funds availability.”

“The private sector funding universe was approached to assist with the funding requirements for the purchase and owing to the reluctance of the Botswana based finance institutions, Air Botswana eventually settled for Investec Mauritius. Unfortunately, due to, among others, the funding disbursement timing, the finance agreement did come to fruition.”

“Government intervened and provided funding from the Public Service Debts Fund (PSDF) to fund the acquisition of the two Jets. The funding was, welcome, as it was, fell short of the total funds needed for the acquisition of the Jet. The funds were insufficient for Entry into Service, ferry costs, insurance, cabin and flight crew training. The deficits were funded the operational budget of the airline, placing the cash flow of the organisation under tremendous pressure, which it has not recovered from since. 

“The Jet was received in December 2018 from EIC, and only managed to be integrate into service in June 2019, following protracted licensing and operationalisation issues between Air Botswana and the regulator Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB). “The period saw intense scheduling challenges, serious cash flow challenges arising from the funding of Jet acquisition and the shortfall between the ATR trade-in.

“The assurance to the Minister is that the Fleet Modernisation Process has always been in full compliance with the Procurement Procedures of the Airline, in compliance with Corporate Governance process, and we have engaged the media at all times. We have offered the journalists full access to our records, an opportunity he declined.

We have reasonable that the tirade against the Corporation is in part supported and fuelled by a former Director of Engineering and Maintenance. The severance of the agreement with the director in part relates to Fleet Modernisation Project.  “We assure the Minister of our intention to cooperate fully with any aspects of the inquiries, and specifically to capacitate the Ministry with any clarification to deal with any inquiries.”

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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