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Debswana to champion Botswana’s fourth industrial revolution

Debswana Diamond Mining Company, a 50-50 Joint venture between Government of Botswana & De Beer Group intends to take a lead in embracing technology for better business results. Being the largest private sector employer and biggest source of business after government.

The company which is by far a powerhouse in global rough diamond production is a key component in Botswana middle income economic setup. Diamond industry accounts for over 30 % of Botswana’s GDP and is the country’s largest foreign income earner.

Recently Orapa Letlhakane & Damtshaa Mines (OLDM), the largest diamond mining operation in the world by volume reiterated the company’s commitments to tapping into digital revolution and leveraging on the advancement of the 4th Industrial Revolution for better business output.

The Mine hosted Risk Management Business Expo organised by Risk Management Division under the theme: “Disruption, Data, and Digitization.” The expo gathered risk management businesses and stakeholders, amongst others insurance companies, plant and equipment hiring operations as well as car dealership service providers.

Forming key proceedings at the expo was conversations around the evolution of risk management functions and businesses in general into significant components and participants of The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), as well as stall exhibitions.

Giving welcome remarks at the event, OLDM General Manager, Bakani Motlhabani noted that modern technology has taken over and it was affecting all aspects of human existence, from communication, travel and most importantly how businesses are run. “Whether we think of ourselves as technologically well informed or conservatives who want nothing to do with its way, the truth is the world is changing at the hands of this digital wave, not only in the work place, even in our homes” he said.

Motlhabani borrowed a leaf form American Writer Ken Aulerta who once suggested: “The digital revolution is almost as disruptive to the traditional media business as electricity was to the candle business”. Debswana Head of Risk Management Tefo Setlhare , who was the keynote speaker, said in this day and age, the question is not whether businesses want to go along with the techno revolution or not.

“We rather have to look into what we are doing to ensure we remain relevant and viable businesses within this digital shifts. We must leverage on the fourth industrial revolution, the digital era allows us to think and do things differently because digitalization and data empowers us to transform our businesses and have an immediate social impact," he said.

Setlhare encouraged attending businesses to ready themselves as the digital disruption has arrived “How we position ourselves to take advantage of what is coming is entirely up to us, these advancements if leveraged on can help us deliver results efficiently” he said. Moemedi Merafe- Strategy & Business Improvement Manager at OLDM shared the operation‘s recent high performance model named P101 ,that takes advantage of technology and advancements of digital revolution.

Merafe explained that the initiative launched August last year is aimed at ensuring that  Debswana becomes a global benchmark diamond business. He shared that P101 was influenced by dynamic nature of global diamond business. “P stands for Performance, 1 for 100 percent, and the other 1 for leveraging on technology to maintain and revamp benchmark levels” said Merafe who said P101 intends to further make quantum improvements, and redefine benchmarks “Technology will rule the world going forward  and only the innovative will survive” he said

This week Debswana Group Head of Ore Processing Edwin Elias reiterated this position at this year’s Austmine Conference, held in Australia. Elisa was part of a panel discussion titled, “What Is the Future of Plant and Processing’”. He deliberated on the company’s new waves on cutting-edge mining technology and innovation.

Austmine is one of the biggest mining events in the world, which brings together members, miners, educators, policy makers from all over the world and it features workshops, presentations, case studies and networking within the mining industry. Elias highlighted that Debswana yearns for mineral processing plants as well as mining processing that addresses future challenges and leverage technological opportunities.

Some of the key sentiments shared by Elias at the conference include the fact that future technological needs have to take into consideration the main challenges that come with the next horizon. “ These are: increasing costs, aging assets, the quest for large stones as a niche, increasing mining complexity, increasing water and energy requirements, and external market challenges as well mine closure legal requirements, we therefore have to leverage on technology  and innovative ways to address this challenges” said Elias

Last week Debswana led shaping of young scholars into innovative and technologically woke mines by sponsoring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic(STEM) Festival in Palapye to a tune of P300 000. Presented by Elias at the event held ay Botswana University of Science & Technology (BUIST) Debswana appealed to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology to commit more funds on Research and Development.

“The 0.3% GDP share for STEM cannot by any imagination take us any closer to the pace setters in this economic race. My appeal is that while we may not possibly afford 3% of GDP for Research and Development like nations such as Japan, may we direct at least 2% of GDP towards R & D” he said. He said Debswana will further continue to support conversations and initiatives around ensuring that Botswana becomes a techno-based host of innovation and advanced economic operations.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.” 

Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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