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.
In the coming months prices will go up and inflation will shoot sharply above the target of 3 percent to 6 percent towards the third quarter of 2021, the Bank of Botswana on the other hand will continue to withhold its knife on the Bank Rate. This is according to a forecast made by Kgori Capital in its recent Market Watch Segment.
Statistics from Statistics Botswana show that the recent 1.8 percent increase in the September inflation, from 1 percent in August, was a reflection of the upward adjustment in public transport fares (Transport (from -6.9 to -3.9 percent) in September 2020, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.64 percentage points.
Local anti-trust body, Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA), this month received back to back acquisition proposals from South African clothing retailers to wipe out their former rivals, Edcon, from Botswana malls.
Last week BusinessPost was in possession of Merger Notice No 23 of 2020 whereby a South African clothing retailer owner, Retailability Proprietary Limited, through Oclin Proprietary Limited, proposed to acquire parts of the Edgars business conducted by Edcon in Botswana (through Edcon Botswana), as a going concern, consisting of certain assets and identified liabilities.
South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year announced that Retailability will buy Edgars, after the latter filed for a business rescue plan in April after it failed to pay suppliers. This move will see Retailability add Edgars to its portfolio consisting of brands such as; Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style.
Retailability landed on Botswana shores 18 years ago with its flamboyant urban fashion Style which had 17 stores. Style, having almost the same target market as Edgars as it offers men’s and ladies’ contemporary and formal fashion, gave the 91 year old legendary clothing retailer a run for its money, and has won the battle as its parent company has taken over Edgars.
Retailability brands are synonymous with Botswana shopping centres and there are currently five (5) Beaver Canoe stores, 10 Style stores and seven (7) Legit stores across this country. The Beaver Canoe stores sell clothing apparel for men and boys only. The Legit stores have a fashion store format which focuses on the retailing of clothing, footwear, accessories, colour cosmetics and cellular products.
Retailability operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Many observers suggest that because of the deal with Retailability to swallow Edcon, most Edgars stores in Botswana will change their name and be branded Style. A sad tale for religious consumers of the Edgars trademark who got used to love their favourite brand for years.
According to CCA’s Merger Notice No 23 of 2020, Retailability is controlled by Clifford Raymond Lines (through a company which functions solely as a holding company of his interests in Retailability) and Metier Investment and Advisory Services Proprietary Limited (“Metier”). Metier is a private equity enterprise with investments in a number of industries spanning from healthcare, hospitality, FMCGs and telecommunications.
Retailability directors are mostly South Africans; Clifford Raymond Lines, Mark Richard Friday and Norman Victor Drieselmann. Only Nasreen Essack, who was appointed February this year, is a Motswana. He comes after Brian Thuto Tsima left on the same date. Retailability 100 percent owns Oclin Proprietary Limited, the company it is acquiring Edgars with, by a capacity of 3000 shares.
The target business, Edgars, offer textiles, cosmetics and cellular products. Edcon has a Motswana director, Charles Mzwandile Vikisi, a South African, Shane Van Niekerk and Zimbabwean Jethro Kamutsi.
“The Target Business comprises of two (2) Edgars franchise brands and private label stores across Botswana. These stores target middle to upper income customers and are home to a range of private label brands such as Free2BU, Charter Club and Stone Harbour, and a wide range of market label brands (such as Levi’s and Guess) for clothing, footwear and cosmetics.
In addition, the Target Business operates iconic Edgars Home and Edgars Beauty stores as store-in-store formats rounding out the department store offering in Botswana,” said CCA. Foshini also lines up to take Jet Botswana from Edcon.
The Foschini Group (TFG) released a statement confirming its latest intentions to acquire Edcon assets or Jet for a cash purchase consideration of R480 million. This was after the business rescue practitioners offered TFG to buy Jet by that amount.
CCA is currently mulling on a proposed merger by TFG to take over Jet operations in Botswana. Merger Notice No 21 of 2020 from TFG came a few days before the Retailability proposal. In this merger TFG, acting through Foschini Botswana, want to take over “parts” of the Jet business conducted by Edcon through Jet Supermarkets Botswana.
TFG will be willing to add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents. TFG will also get Jet’s distribution centre located in Durban and certain stores in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini. Also part of this fat deal is that the company is looking to also acquire JET Club and all existing JET stock of no less than R800 million.
Johannesburg listed TGF owns Foschini Retail Group which owns the local operations called Foschini Botswana, the acquiring enterprise according to CCA merger notice. “TFG is not controlled by any enterprise/s and for completeness, the three largest shareholders of TFG holding shares greater than 5% as at 27th March 2020 are: Government Employees Pension Fund (16.2%) Public Investment Corporation (13.2%); Old Mutual Limited (6.7%); and Investec Asset Management (6.3%). The remaining issued share capital in TFG is widely held,” said the merger notice.
Only Abdool Rahim Khan is a Motswana in the Foschini Botswana directorship, the rest; Ganeswari Shani Naidoo, Anthony Edward Thunström and Gustav Jansen (alternate director) are South Africans.
According to the CCA merger, the Jet Business is Edcon’s discount department store division, selling clothing, footwear, homeware and some cosmetics as well as cellular products and targets lower-to-middle income consumers throughout Botswana. The Jet Business does not directly or indirectly control any enterprises, says the notice. CCA seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication to the following address.
Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA signed a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Ministries of Transport and Communications (MTC), Basic Education (MoBE) as well as Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).
The MoA seeks to continue the collaboration that dates back to 2016 when the three parties first agreed to work together in a project aimed at computerizing and providing broadband Internet to primary schools in remote and underserved areas of Botswana.
The project benefitted 68 primary schools and 9 secondary schools through the construction of Local Area Network (LAN) in each primary school, provision of 5 Mbps dedicated broadband Internet to each Primary School and provision of Wi-Fi enabled tablets, laptops and related peripherals such as printers and copiers.
Further, the project will see the augmentation of computers in 9 Junior Secondary Schools with 30 laptops per identified school and employment of Information Technology (IT) officers at each primary school.
When speaking at the signing ceremony in Gaborone, Chief Executive of BOCRA and Chairperson of Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) Board of Trustees Martin Mokgware said the project’s ultimate goal is to facilitate pupils in schools and host villages to be able to play a meaningful role in the digital economy.
Mokgware indicated that this necessitates upgrading of existing Telecommunications infrastructure to high capacity broadband that will support delivery of education, accessibility to the quality Internet and usage of ICTs.
The Fund began its inaugural programme by sponsoring the provision of WiFi hotspots in public areas around the country as its first project. Following the successful implementation of public WiFi hotspots, the Fund identified Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and Mabutsane areas for mobile network upgrades, schools computerization and internet provision.
Conscious that the project would not be possible without buy-in and support from MoBE, MTC and MLGRD, the Fund facilitated the signing of the first MoU between the three parties in 2016 for implementation of the project.
BOCRA Chief Executive said the signing of this agreement is aimed at benefitting the Kweneng District, adding that they have already assessed the area and have determined that they will be covering 62 underserved villages and 119 schools, 91 of which are primary schools.
“This is a project for which the partner Ministries need to re-commit for its success. Lessons from the previous schools’ computerization and internet connectivity project require that we increase our involvement and resources dedicated to the project for it to be successful. It is my belief as the project coordinator, that we will not do things the way we did them during the first project, for if we do, then we will not have learnt anything,” he said at the signing ceremony.
The purpose of learning is so that there can be continuous improvement to minimize the length of time and amount of resources utilized, he said expressing confidence that their partners will step up to the plate and ensure they play their part in the implementation of the project and that it will progress smoothly having already tread along a similar path.
UASF’s role lies mainly in funding and project management. According to Mokgware, once the project is completed, the work to integrate ICTs into the classroom begins in earnest. Therefore, he said, the project will not succeed without full cooperation and oversight of partners.
“MoBE will put in place the necessary content and ensure that the curriculum is available to all. MLGRD will provide, among others, the enabling environment by ensuring readiness of the school’s infrastructure and necessary security.”