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The world is becoming increasingly urbanized – UN

The 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report indicates that the world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has been living in cities, and that share is projected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030.

Cities and metropolitan areas are powerhouse of economic growth-contributing about 60 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product GDP. However, they also account for about 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and over 60 per cent of resource use. Rapid urbanization is resulting in a growing number of slum dwellers, inadequate and overburdened infrastructure and services (such as waste collection and water and sanitation systems, roads and transport), worsening air pollution and unplanned urban sprawl.

To respond to those challenges, over 150 countries have developed national urban plans, with almost half of them in the implementation phase. Ensuring that those plans are well executed will help cities grow in a more sustainable and inclusive manner. According to the report, rapid urbanization and population growth rate are outpacing the construction of adequate and affordable housing. The proportion of the urban population living in slums worldwide, declined by 20 per cent between 2000 and 2014 (from 28 per cent to 23 per cent).

That positive trend recently reversed course, and the proportion grew to 23.5 per cent in 2018. The absolute number of people living in slums or informal settlements grew to over 1 billion, with 80 per cent attributed to three regions: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (370 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (238 million) and Central and Southern Asia (227 million). An estimated 3 billion people will require adequate and affordable housing by 2030.

The reports indicated that the growing number of slum dwellers is the result of both urbanization and population growth that are outpacing the construction of new affordable homes. Adequate housing is a human right, and the absence of it negatively affects urban equity and inclusion, health and safety, and livelihood opportunities. It further noted that renewed policy attention and increased investments are needed to ensure affordable and adequate housing by 2030.

Further, the report highlighted that access to public transport is increasing, but faster progress is needed in developing countries. Public transport is an essential service for urban residents and a catalyst for economic growth and social inclusion. Moreover, with ever-increasing numbers of people moving to urban areas, the use of public transport is helping to mitigate air pollution and climate change.

According to 2018 data from 227 cities, in 78 countries, 53 per cent of urban residents had convenient access to public transport (defined as residing within 500 metres walking distance of a bus stop or a low-capacity transport system or within 1000 metres of a railway and ferry terminal). In most regions, the number of people using public transport rose by nearly 20 per cent between 2001 and 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind, with only 18 per cent of its residents having convenient access to public transport.

In some regions with low access, informal transport modes are widely available and, in many cases, provide reliable transport. Stronger efforts are needed to ensure that sustainable transport is available for all, particularly to vulnerable populations such as women, children, seniors and persons with disabilities.  

Municipal waste, as communicated on the report, is mounting, highlighting the growing need for investment in urban infrastructure. Globally, over 2 billion people were without waste collection services, and 3 billion people lacked access to controlled waste disposal facilities, according to data collected between 2010 and 2018. The problem will only worsen as urbanization increases, income levels rise and economies become consumer-oriented. The total amount of waste generated globally is expected to double from nearly 2 billion metric tons in 2016 to about 4 billion metric tons by 2050.

The proportion of municipal solid waste collected regularly increased from 76 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to 81 per cent between 2010 and 2018. But that does not mean that it was disposed of properly. Many municipal solid waste facilities in low- and middle-income countries are open dumpsites, which contribute to air, waste, land and soil pollution, including by plastic waste, as well as emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane. Investment in waste management infrastructure is urgently needed to improve the handling of solid waste across much of the world.

In many cities, the reported said air pollution has become an unavoidable health hazard. It noted that nine out of ten urban residents in 2016 were breathing polluted air- that is, air that did not meet the World Health organization WHO air quality guidelines for annual mean levels of fine particulate matter of 10 micrograms or less per cubic metre. More than half of those people were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2, 5 times above the guideline value. Air quality worsened between 2010 and 2016 for more than 50 per cent of the world’s population. Central and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the two regions that saw the largest increases in particulate and mater concentrations.

In low- and middle-income countries, the air quality of 97 per cent of cities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants did not meet the air quality guidelines in 2016, compared to 49 per cent in high-income countries. Ambient air pollution from traffic, industry, power generation, waste burning and residential fuel combustion, combined with household air pollution, poses a major threat to both human health and efforts to curb climate change. More than 90 per cent of air pollution related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.

In that report, it was shared that open public spaces make cities more inclusive, but many residents are not within easy walking distance of them. A connective matrix of streets and public spaces forms the skeleton of the city upon which everything else rests. Where public space is inadequate, poorly designed or privatised, the city becomes increasingly segregated. Investment in networks of streets and open public spaces improved productivity, livelihoods and access to markets, jobs and public services, especially in countries where over half of the urban workforce is informal.


Based on 2018 data from 220 cities, in 77 countries, few cities have been able to implement a system of open public spaces that covers entire urban areas- that is, within easy reach of all residents. Findings show that the average share of the population within 400 metres walking distance of an open public space is around 31 per cent, with a huge variations among cities (from a low of 5 per cent to a high of 90 per cent). A low percentage does not necessarily mean that an inadequate share of land is open public space, but rather that the distribution of such spaces across the city is uneven.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that inequality within and among countries is a persistent cause of concern, despite progress in some areas. It shared that income inequality continues to rise in many parts of the world, even as the poorest 40 per cent of the population in most countries experience income growth. Greater focus is needed to reduce income and other inequalities, including those related to labour market access and trade. Specifically, additional efforts are needed to further increase zero-tariff access for exports from poorer countries, and to provide technical assistance to LDCs and small island developing states seeking to benefit from preferential trade status.

Data show mixed progress on the sharing of prosperity within countries. To gauge whether the poorest people in a country are participating in economic progress, the report said, it is useful to compare the growth of household income, or consumption of the poorest 40 per cent with that of the population as a whole. That provides one indication of whether overall prosperity is being shared with the bottom 40 per cent of the income ladder in a country.

In 92 countries with comparable data over the period 2011 to 2016, the results were mixed. In 69 countries, the poorest 40 per cent saw their income grow, but with large variations among countries. In 50 of those 69 countries, income growth in the poorest 40 per cent of the population was faster than the national average. Notably, however, the bottom 40 per cent still received less than 25 per cent of overall income. In many countries, an increasing share of income goes to the top 1 per cent.

Data measuring household income for that analysis were limited. Only 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had data on income growth for the most recent period. That points to the on-going need for improved data collection and statistical capacity-building, especially in the poorest countries. The report underlined that rich and poor countries alike can benefit from policies promoting equality and inclusivity. It shared that an important development of objective for many countries is easing inequality and addressing social inclusion.

One indicator of relative poverty and inequality is the share of people living below 50 per cent of the median income level. An analysis of data from 10 high- and low income countries showed that the median country had 14 per cent of the population with income levels below that threshold. The most unequal country had 26 per cent below that threshold, and the most equal country had 3 per cent. But both rich and poor countries have high and low levels of inequality. Income inequality is not strongly correlated with either poverty of affluence, suggesting that policies promoting equality and inclusivity have universal relevance.

Countries with a high proportion of non-performing loans need to attend to the health of their banking systems; this is according to the report. It stressed that the stability of a country’s financial system is key to efficiently allocating resources, managing risks, and ensuring that macroeconomic objectives that benefit all are met. One measure of financial stability is the share of non-performing loans in relation to total loans to depositors in a banking system.

An analysis of 138 countries from 2010 to 2017 showed that, in half of the countries, non-performing loans made up less than 5 per cent of total loans. In 207, more than one quarter of the countries showed a higher percentage of non-performing loans, 10 per cent or more, and four countries showed a proportion higher than 30 per cent. A high proportion of non-performing loans usually affects profitability and undermines the broader business environment, which can have consequences for economic growth, unemployment and other factors affecting inequality.

Globally, the share of national output used to remunerate workers is declining; this has been shared by the report. The share of national income that goes to labour is one indication of whether economic growth will translate into higher incomes for workers over time. Increased national income can lead to improved living standards, but that depends on its contribution across aspects of production, including labour, capital and land.

The report noted that globally, the share of national income going to labour has shown a downward trend since 2004. That means that the share of national output used to remunerate workers has declined. The decrease was temporarily reversed during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 due to a sudden contraction in GDP. Central and Southern Asia and Europe and Northern America were the main drivers of the declining global labour share.

Between 2004 and 2017, the adjusted labour share of GDP decreased by more than 5 percentage points in Central and Southern Asia, from 51.2 per cent to 45.8 per cent, and close to 2 percentage points in Europe and Northern America, from 59.6 per cent to 57.6. Conversely, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the labour income share increased from 48.4 to 50.5 per cent during the same period.

It was further communicated that lower-income countries continue to benefit from preferential trade status. Duty-free access continued to increase for exports from LDCs, small island developing states and developing regions at large. LDCs saw that the biggest benefits: coverage of duty-free treatment increased by 5.5 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, reaching 65.6 per cent of exports. About 51 per cent of exports from developing regions have now become eligible for duty-free treatment.

At the sector level, improvements in the treatment of LCDs were primarily due to growing duty-free access for agricultural and industrial products. However, such access for LDCs and other developing countries is not automatic at customs checkpoints. Exporters need to comply with rules-of-origin certification processes to benefit from preferential treatment. Those procedures the report said can be costly and time-consuming for small and medium sized enterprises, lowering their incentive to apply for preferential treatment.

In conclusion, the report stressed that policies to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration are widespread, but far from universal. It underlined that the majority of countries have policies that facilitate the orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. Yet significant differences can be found across the six policy domains of this indicator.

For each domain, more than half of the 105 countries with available data have a comprehensive set of policy measures, meaning that they reported having migration policy measures for 80 per cent or more of the subcategories of each domain. Migrant rights and socioeconomic well-being are the areas demonstrating the largest policy gaps, with over 40 per cent of countries lacking a comprehensive set of measures in those domains. Policies to promote cooperation and partnerships and to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration are the most widespread, with more than three quarters of countries reporting a wide range of such measures.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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SEZA’s P126 million tender heads to court

1st March 2021

Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.

SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).

In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.

In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.

“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said.
“The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”

SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements.  In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.

“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.

He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide.  He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.

“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.

He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.

A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.

The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages.  The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.

Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.

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