SPEDU, BITC launch Bulb world
Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) and its sister parastatal Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) last week officially launched Bulb World, a 100 percent citizen owned a LED light bulb manufacturing company operating in Selibe Phikwe.
Botswana’s national investment and trade promotion agency , BITC assisted the setting up of Bulb World through facilitation services offered at the Botswana One Stop Services Center (BOSSC) while SPEDU , a Phikwe region bespoke investment promotion agency made facilitations on factory shells and all operational space requirements in Phikwe. Owned by Ketshephaone Jacob a youthful entrepreneur and innovator, Bulb World manufactures 20,000 light Emitting Diode (LED) lights per day.
The company currently employed 30 young Batswana at the factory and 6 more administrative and marketing personnel at their Gaborone office. Ketshephaone Jacob explained that his company was established in 2016 but only started production in late 2018. “We ran into some delays with procurement of equipments and factory components which deferred our production timeline” he said.
With everything back on track Jacob says the aim is to be the leading provider of LED lighting solutions in Botswana and the SADC region for commercial and industrial factories as well as private residence. Bulb World lights are said to be designed to save energy by 80% on lighting costs and have a production span of up to 50,000 hours and a 36-month guarantee.
Coming at a time when residents of Selibe Phikwe are still hard hit by the aftermath of BCL Mine closure speakers at the launch underscored Bulb World’s capability to contribute meaningfully to the revitalization of Phikwe and entire SPEDU region “Our ambition as Bulb World is to employ as many young people as possible in our bid to create employment and we do absorb our recruits straight from tertiary institutions and offer on the job training.” Explained Jacob.
SPEDU Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mokubung Mokubung noted that Bulb World has the potential to help reduce Botswana’s import bill and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic diversification agenda “I am confident it will help uplift the economy of Selibe-Phikwe as it has already created jobs for 30 youths and its expected to create more jobs in the future,” he said.
Chief Executive of Botswana Investment & Trade Centre, Mr Kelotsositse Olebile encouraged Bulb World to register for the Economic Diversification Drive initiative (EDD) as it seeks to leverage on government purchasing power through local procurement. Mr Olebile also invited The Bulb World to use available BITC programes such as Botswana Export Development Programme (BEDP) and challenged the community to buy local products.
Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Karabo Gare, who was the guest speaker commended Bulb World Botswana for their contribution towards improving the energy sector in Botswana. Gare said the huge part of the electricity consumption in Botswana accounts to 40% of the total energy used for buildings alone and the introduction of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting was a step in the right direction as it was energy efficient and consumes up to 80% less power than traditional lights.
He said the less energy consumed by LED lighting the less demand from power plants which will decrease greenhouse gas emissions consequently reducing global warming crises. Assistant Minister Gare said the his Ministry regards Bulb World as a critical partner in the revitalization of Selibe Phikwe and SPEDU region following demise of its economic engine in October 2016. “We recognize the efforts made by the young entrepreneurs who came up with this company and we continue to urge more domestic business people to invest in Phikwe and make the SPEDU region a manufacturing hub” he said.
In addition the Minister called on local sales companies, retail outlets and electrical appliances stores to offer shelves space to Bulb World products. "I believe in supporting local products and initiatives that actually grows our country, so let the words "made in Botswana" or "PushaBW" be a call of action and not a call to question", Said Gare. The Assistant Minister highlighted that Bulb World was taking strides in delivering the nation's best spark forward on a local and International scale.
“We are aware of the challenges that are faced by SMME's like Bulb World Botswana but my Ministry continuously engages retailers to support local manufacturers and we are already seeing positive results in the food and clothing sectors where commitments have been made on provision of shelve space.” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Mr Mmetla Masire said his Ministry will also support Bulb World as it offers solution to Botswana‘s energy needs. “We should promote market uptake of locally produced goods not only because they are local but because of reasonable pricing and good quality.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.
The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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