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ADB: Botswana’s growth not inclusive!

African Development Bank’s latest report indicates that despite Botswana’s impressive economic performance; growth has not been inclusive. In particular, the high unemployment and inequality if unattended, has the potential of creating social unrest.

To ensure inclusive growth, Botswana needs to address its two main challenges which are limited economic growth diversification and inadequate infrastructure. Limited economic diversification has led to an increased dominance of government in economic activities which is constraining private sector participation.

Low private sector investment inhibits the progress of economic diversification, and in turn hinders overall manufacturing productivity, creating a vicious cycle of headwinds to growth. Public sector dominance has distorted the labor market and softened growth of the private sector. Large flows of diamonds revenues allow government to be the largest and a generous employer thereby inadvertently influencing the worker’s preference for the limited job opportunities in the government. This has created skills shortages in the private sector and also increased the reservation wage resulting in higher cost of production and low productivity.

The large public sector has become a growing source of inefficiency, weak competitiveness, and a constraint to private enterprise development. The special privileges extended to state-owned enterprises make it more difficult for the private sector, large enterprises and SMEs alike, to participate in certain key areas of the economy, thus inhibiting competition and associated gains in productivity and efficiency. Reforms are needed to remove inefficiencies, and promote productivity of the state-owned enterprises. In addition, Botswana needs to improve the business environment to become more competitive particularly with respect to South Africa.

Capacity constraints and skills shortages have been persistent despite significant public investments in educational facilities. The situation is further aggravated by the high incidence of HIV and AIDS. The shortage of skilled workers has hindered knowledge transfer and innovation. A sustained investment in human capital will ensure that long-term growth is more firmly based, as well as more inclusive, and will grow the importance as the economy diversifies and climbs up the value chain of both the manufacturing and the service sectors.

The report further indicated that the quality of some components of basic infrastructure at present is lagging behind many of Botswana’s peers. A concerted effort to improve the quality of infrastructure holds the key to transforming the economy and sustaining high growth.
Electricity supply in Botswana is inadequate and unreliable, with the available capacity of 322 megawatts falling far short of its demand of about 580 megawatts, which in the past has been partly met through imports.

The stabilization of Morupule B power station, with a potential output of 600 megawatts, is expected to ease the situation in the short term. In the medium to long term, it is envisaged that new generating capacity, Morupule C 2 X 150 megawatts brownfield project and another 2 X megawatts greenfield project, will be developed by the private sector under the framework of independent power producers. Low tariffs could pose constraints to attracting private sector participation in the electricity subsector.

Electricity tariffs need to be adjusted to improve the viability of the sector. It is also important to establish the legal and regulatory framework that is conducive to private sector participation, including a regulatory agency with adequate authority and capacity to regulate the sector.
While Botswana’s internal transport infrastructure network is considered adequate, its landlocked status and vast terrain significantly increases trading costs.

The provision of reliable transport services between the main population and production centers, and to neighboring countries remains one of government’s top priorities in order to encourage foreign investments in key sectors of the economy, such as mining, construction, manufacturing and tourism. For example, the exportation of coal will require a rail network to the posts. A well- developed transport system would assist this land-locked country to position itself gainfully so that it becomes a preferred transit route.

On the ICT sector, Botswana has very high mobile penetration rates, but internet access and fixed broadband subscription is low for a middle income country. Historically, Botswana has depended on satellites for its international bandwidth, and on other countries to transit capacity to landing points of international submarine fiber-optic cable systems. The virtual monopoly of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation has resulted in high wholesale costs.

The landing additional cables in the region in 2011 and 2012 has improved the competitiveness in this regard. Transformation of the economy to advanced manufacturing and services will require faster and affordable broadband. To address this, the government is in the process of finalizing the national broadband strategy to roll out a high- speed and reliable network.

Water shortage remains a challenge. Botswana is a drought-prone country and suffers from water shortages especially in the southern part of the country, which makes food security challenging. Over 60% of domestic food demand is met through imports, underscoring the need for increased investment in irrigation infrastructure. The increasing rate of urbanization has also put significant pressure on its water resources for human consumption and industrial use. Inadequate and irregular water supply also constrains the growth of the manufacturing sector. To address the inefficiencies and long term sustainability of the sector, implementation of the water reform programme is ongoing.

The CDB report further highlighted that Botswana is not an aid dependent country, but has used the little ODA it receives effectively in support of development. When Botswana graduated to middle income country status, several development partners scaled down their activities. Despite this, Botswana has made significant progress in aid coordination and harmonization. The government launched the Development Partners Coordination Forum in September 2007, which meets twice a year.

The Forum comprises of government representatives, heads of diplomatic missions and bilateral and multilateral organizations including the Bank which always participates in scheduled meetings, benefiting from the proximity of the Bank’s Southern Africa Resource Center to the country. The Forum provides a two-way platform for information sharing on government policies, aid modalities and aid coordination in general. Nonetheless, the alignment and harmonization of donor support the low.

There are very few joint missions and analytical work, and routine sector working groups rarely meet. Consistent with the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, country systems for public financial management and procurement are continuously assessed and strengthened throughout Bank-funded operations.

It also indicated that the country benefits from support from a number of development partners, with European Union leading donor providing, among others forms of assistance, sector budget support to the education sector. The World Bank supports the public financial management reform process and energy generation, while the Bank’s focus is mainly on energy transmission and agricultural infrastructure. United Nations agencies spearhead capacity building initiatives while the United States leads support to the health sector, focusing on preventative measures on HIV and AIDS. Nonetheless, there are numerous donor supported operations, numbering about 140 in 2012.

However, the CDB has put down a strategy for Botswana. Botswana’s mineral-driven and public –sector led growth model provided four decades of strong performance but maintaining strong growth has been a challenge in recent years. In addition, growth has been less inclusive. The declining trend in growth may exacerbate Botswana’s already high income inequality and persistent unemployment. Tackling the high level of structural unemployment is important to improve the quality of economic growth.

Private sector led growth is essential if Botswana is to unleash its growth potential and sustain it. The will require a decisive reforms and innovative policies to reinvigorate productivity. Botswana is at a crossroad with the global downturn leading to a rethinking of the country’s development strategy. The MTR of the NDP10 recognizes that a new economic model is required.

Old policies need to be reviewed to make the case for an additional transformation to avoid a middle-income trap. The need to transform the country has long been recognized but the sense of urgency seems higher now than in the past. An ambitious agenda for new sources of economic growth and employment needs to be set.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de DĂ©veloppement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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