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Students from Botswana take third prize in Huawei’s Sub-Saharan Africa ICT Competition

The Botswana team of three student emerged as one of the winners in this year’s Sub Saharan regional finals of Huawei's global ICT Competition.

The competition covered latest ICT technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile networks and big data. Almost 30 thousand students from over 100 universities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Mauritius participated.  At the finals, held last week in Johannesburg, it came down to 42 students in 14 teams. They sat for theory and practical examinations at the finals at Huawei’s regional headquarters in Woodmead, Johannesburg.

Teams from Nigeria and Tanzania won the champion and the team from Botswana secured the third prize. Gontse Basupi, a 3rd year student from University of Botswana, who was representing his country in the contest said the competition has elevated his skills in terms of the ICT and networking industry.

“I gained a lot. This journey has been an eye opener. I gained the privilege to compete with industry experts from other countries and got a sense of where my skill is. I feel that the certificate I received from Huawei will give me a head start in the corporate world and open new opportunities for me. Huawei is expanding in the networking industry, especially with the introduction of Safe City Project in Botswana, which uses Huawei technology. This certification will hopefully help in the competiveness of jobs as Huawei continues to integrate in Botswana.” Said Gontse”.

In 2018, Botswana Open University established Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy (HAINA) in order to deliver Huawei Certification courses to their students and worked with Botho University as a testing centre. The student were accompanied by their promatric testing Centre instructor Mr Mr Turugare Ranganai from Botho University.

Mr Turugare Ranganai, an instructor from Botho University said Botswana is aiming at producing youth generation that is employable locally, regionally and globally which matches Huawei’s main aim to Botswana and the Africa continent which is to develop talents with practical skills for the ICT industry and the community.

“Huawei courses focus on theoretical knowledge that is build practical lab activities which are helpful in producing a well skilled youth capable of solving problems both as a an employee or entrepreneurial youth. The certification serves students with confidence in dealing with physical network devices and also bridging the theory acquired during their bachelor studies with the practical experienced which they gain doing Huawei certification. Most of the companies are also using Huawei product hence creating employment for the certification holders.” Said Mr Turugare Ranganai.

In as much as the country is striving to equip its youth with ICT innovation, there is still a challenge in establishing infrastructure to support research and new innovation for development. Encouraging collaboration between industry and academia is very important for university students to build entrepreneurial skills and develop an innovative culture which is usable in industry.

Speaking at the final award giving presentation, Mr. Xue Man, Vice President of Huawei, said Huawei understands the value of a good talent ecosystem which is the foundation for a smart future for human society. “This ICT Competition is part of our innovative initiatives to support that and promote ICT skills. We believe that this event will inspire more students’ quest in ICT learning in Africa; it provides them with a world-class stage to showcase themselves and consolidate the vital ICT needed for Africa's development” Said Xue.

This year, Huawei will sponsor another 10 Batswana students:

ICT talents to China through its Seeds for the Future ICT talents training program. The students will be participating in various forms of ICT trainings in line with the Chinese culture lessons in their 3-week stay in Beijing and Shenzhen. The Huawei ICT Competition is a global ICT talent competition exchange event, which is aimed at the Huawei Authorized Information and Network Technology College (Huawei ICT Academy) and related universities.

Since the first Huawei ICT Contest held in 2015, the number of participants in the competition has grown exponentially and has become one of the largest ICT events in the world. The 2018/19 event has attracted more than 1,000 universities in more than 50 countries around the world under the slogan “Connection, Glory and Future”. The total number of students participating global was 80,000 students, including 28 000 students from Southern Africa.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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