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Debswana to champion Botswanas 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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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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