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Great strides made as Debswana turns 50

Diamong mining giant, Debswana Mining Company has announced that it has availed over P68 million in developing various communities across the country in the last five years.

The investment in the local communities is on top of other milestone achievements that the mining company has been engaged in 50 years after the Botswana Government and De Beers went into partnership that led to the creation of Debswana. In 1969, Botswana was one of the least developed countries in Africa facing a number of challenges, but the creation of the Debswana Diamond Mining Company has seen the southern African country attaining an upper middle income status.

“Debswana has spent more than P68 million in the past five years on programmes in the fields of education, the environment, small business development, arts and culture, health, and sports development,” Albert Milton, the managing director of Debswana, said.

“Schools and other facilities in the mining areas built by Debswana are used by local people as well as employees. Teachers from the mines’ private schools help with the Government Schools Development Programme,” he added.

The partnership between De Beers and the Botswana Government has been praised globally as a leading example of a successful public-private partnership.  

Last week, the mining company held several events to celebrate the achievements that it has made in realising such a milestone success in a space of 50 years when the mining partnership was signed.  The events were held at Debswana’s mines in Jwaneng and Orapa towns, and the company’s head office in Gaborone, where the keynote speaker was President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

It is clear from what Milton said that revenue collected from collected from diamond production has been to good use – which is rare in other African countries where such investments breed massive corruption – in improving health service and diversifying the economy. Milton said the new chapter in Botswana’s economic history had resulted in Botswana’s value of rough diamonds rising annually from P11 billion to more than P55 billion.

The government has also seen to it that the health sector in the country is developed and as a result, no-one in Botswana travels more than 29km to the nearest health facility while the doctor to patient ratio one doctor to an average of 3 300 patients compared to 1967 when it was one doctor was for every 50 000 patients.

Debswana also operates two hospitals near its Orapa and Jwaneng mines, which serve an average of 150 000 people per year. In 2001, Debswana became the first company in the world to offer free anti-retroviral therapy to its employees and their spouses living with HIV/AIDS. In 2008, this facility was extended to children.

“The work that we do extends to future generations. Over the years, Debswana has turned the hopes and dreams of the communities within which we operate into reality. We have contributed to national and community initiatives in the areas of health, education, sports, biodiversity and community development,” said Milton.

When Botswana achieved its independence in 1966, only 4.8km of roads were tarred, but now part of the revenue from diamonds has been channelled to the tarring of thousands of kilometres of roads and the roads safe to use.
 The company is now the largest private sector employer in Botswana after the government with more than 5 500 employees and at least 6 000 contractors. The multiplier effect of all these employees, added to social investments, has seen a great impact on the country’s business sector.

“We are committed to continue unlocking the value of Botswana's precious natural resource to create true value for the lives of Batswana,” Milton said.
 For this rare success story to grow and for Botswana to advance, President Masisi said he wants a long-term sales pact with De Beers when the current 10 year deal ends next year.  The president also wants the great strides made increased by having more diamonds processed locally instead of being exported as rough gems.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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