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P500 million CEDA record marks self-sustenance path

Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Thamane has said stringent measures introduced by the agency have begun to pay dividends, as the institution collected a record P515 million in last financial year.

The measures are part of Thamane’s ambition to transform the 19 year old financial development institution into a self-sustaining agency.  Thamane expects CEDA to be fully self-sustaining within the next 6 years, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into with Malaysian based SME Bank, a state owned financial development institution.

“We collected P515 million, that’s more than half a billion. This was the first time in the 19 year history of the institution that we have collected that much. Our target was P440 million and we went beyond our target,” Thamane told WeekendPost this week. Thamane attributes this success to prioritising collection rate when he took over the reins, a feat achieved amid strenuous effort.

“When I was appointed, there was a general laxity from people that, because it was CEDA a quasi-government [institution] people did not want to pay their loans,” he said. “People were not forthcoming because of that mentality, so we had to curb the wheel, and we seriously did. It changed the mind set of the people, they now know if they owe CEDA, they have to pay because we keep them on their toes. We needed that.”The CEDA chief said the reforms introduced proved to be unpopular, but he was adamant that it was a necessary devil.

“People were crying and politicians were complaining that there was ‘In a matter between’ in every newspaper involving CEDA and their clients. I told them I had to and every relationship has to end at some stage. Either you pay the loan or we go to court.  We developed a collection team dedicated toward phoning people,” he said. “Government gives us about P250 million as subvention, and we raise P600 million internally. The government subvention we don’t use it for rent or other operational costs, it goes to financing projects.”

PROJECT FACILITATION FUND AS GAME CHANGER

CEDA in partnership with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) recently introduced Project Facilitation Fund, which is a pre-project funding targeting high impact projects with strong focus on agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism. “The Project Facilitation Fund was the minister [Bogolo Kenewendo] vision to develop the SME through her apex model. CEDA falls in the SME apex. We realised that there are certain legal and regulatory requirements, as much as they are good and necessary legal requirements, that have an impact on SMEs,” he said.

“This is so because SMEs are now unable to access capital, as a result of that, they cannot access the market. Consequently people just stay home with dreams, and they cannot do anything. This is what usually lead to people being frustrated and some even accusing CEDA of selling their ideas when somebody succeeds in the same business they wanted to do.”

Thamane noted that Project Facilitation Fund will be in the form money accessed in order to finance certain pre-requisite requirements for certain projects such as  Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), product testing and processing certification, diligence, valuation reports, soil and water test, borehole test, structural reports among others. Though the initiative can accommodate other projects in exceptional cases, the focus is in high impact projects in agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism.

“If you look at these sectors Batswana are spectators. We have the data that shows how many Batswana are into these sectors. We as CEDA deliberately said we will focus on these sectors,” Thamane said. According to Thamane, CEDA is doing a manufacturing study, which will inform the agency on opportunities avail and what to fund. He said the study will assess the import bill and also offer suggestion on the low hanging fruits.

“We want to move to a situation whereby we direct people where to venture because we are the owners of the funds and we can dictate where the funds go. We want people to use the entire value chain of primary production of goods. There has to be on who grows, then one who processes and finally the one who sells to market,” he said. “One the biggest problems facing SMEs is that, one would want to do everything in the entire value chain. It affects efficiencies. “The next phase, we need to digitize our platforms so that people do not come to our office, they just communicate via our apps. Very soon we will unveil some of those apps. We want to leverage on technology as delivery channel.”

MERGING OF PUBLIC ENTREPRISES  

Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry last year announced plans to review public enterprises, a process which has various implication which may include possible merging of quasi-government funding institutions such as National Development Bank (NDB), Botswana Development Corporation and CEDA among others.

“It’s a pity that people do not understand development finance. It is a very intruding landscape. You cannot mix micro-business with large businesses because at the end of the day we are going to focus more on large business at the expense of small business or then you focus on small businesses then you forget the large businesses,” he said.

Thamane is of the view that there is a risk of forgetting certain mandates if such was to happen. “I know what CEDA does, I have been here for the past 16 years; I know what LEA does, and I know what other financiers do. What is very critical is that we must be every carefully when making this analysis of merging public enterprises because their mandates were very specific,” he warned.

“It is one thing as for an institution that is not performing as per its mandate. If it does not perform, you do not just say you merge it. You basically say; why is it not performing? Is it the people or is it the mandate? So that is the starting point; If it is the people, you then put the right people so that they can make it perform; if it is the mandate, then review the mandate and then merge it with other institutions.” Thamane contended that the last thing that government needs is to create a monster of an institution, because the bigger the institution, the bigger the process.

APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN OF AADFI

Thamane was elected the Chairman of the Association of African Development Finance Institution (AADFI) at Annual General Assembly held in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in June this year AADFI currently has 82-member institutions and is headquartered in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The association is a member of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions and has observer status at the World Bank. Thamane takes over from the CEO of the Development Bank of South Africa.

“It is much easier for my own country to get capacity building and technical assistance. I can tell you this capacity building and technical assistance have been going to other countries because they attended these events,” said Thamane on the importance of the position.
“’In Botswana we do not attend these events because sometimes people believe it is a waste of resources. Yet we want good things to come to us, but we cannot expect good things to come to us, without being part of these events.”

As the leader of AADFI, Thamane is expected to led a delegation to Frankfurt on green climate fund financing. “It is something I have been advocating for to say, let us have a green fund, and let us have projects that are eco-friendly and encourage them.”

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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