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Zambia culpable in delay of P2 billion Kazungula Bridge

Failure to make up readily available funds for construction of one of the biggest project in Southern Africa, the Kazungula Bridge, by Zambia may delay construction further hence a hindrance to Botswana which is showing positive progress.

The Kazungula Bridge Project is a P2 billion bilateral initiative between Botswana and Zambia referred as a multi-national and border crossing 923m long bridge at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. In this project Botswana and Zambia should meet each other halfway to put together a state of the art crossover between the two countries.  

This project is divided into three separate contracts named “Packages.” Package 1 is taken by South Korea’s Daewoo E&C which is working on the construction of the 923m long by 18.5m wide bridge. Package 2 is the construction of the Botswana One Stop Border Post facility by Zhong Gan Engineering of China. Construction of One Stop Border Post on the Zambian side of the border which is referred to as Package 3 done by Foreign Economic Construction also from China.

However construction at the Zambian side of the border appears to be moving at a snail’s pace, BusinessPost understands that funds for the construction of the bridge from Botswana’s northern neighbours have not been forthcoming. Funds to be proceeded to Road Development Agency of Zambia from the country’s National Road Fund have been disappointing as per information received by this publication. Recently workers at the bridge downed tools pending payments which were delayed by the Zambian government.

Reports from Zambia suggests that the country failed to pay one contractor for the bridge an outstanding P140 million bill while Botswana managed to fulfil its part of commitments. Recently the Zambian government claimed to have proceeded 20 million Kwacha as its commitment, but the media reports in that country claims the money is not yet been paid.

Lending credence that Zambia has not been much forthcoming in the Kazungula Bridge project quickly, this week Minister of Transport and Communications Dorcas Makgato revealed that Package 3 or construction of One Stop Border Post on Zambian side is behind progress by16.38 percent. These utterances came amid reports that Zambia has been delaying in advancing funds for the projects causing workers strikes hence further delays.

“Zambian’s One Stop Border Post (Package 3) is currently at 57.6 percent progress to the planned 73.98 percent,” said Makgato when giving a presentation before parliament’s Committee of Supply. According to Makgato, those travellers between Botswana and Zambia who have been hoping to use the state of the art bridge this month as it was expected to have completed by now will have to wait until “mid 2020” as all packages are expected to have completed.

While Zambia seems to be dragging on the construction of the bridge, Botswana on the other hand is making a fair share as it is only far by progress by only 1.4 percent. Botswana’s One Stop Border Post project stands at 95.4 percent compared to 96.8 percent which was planned according to Makgato. The minister further revealed that construction of the bridge or Package 1 components is at 74 percent compared to 81 percent-observers blames this on Zambia’s unreliability when it comes to advancing funds.

One top Botswana government official who is a bit lenient on Zambia prefers that this country should add a side condition on this project-that Botswana finish all the remaining project and then Zambia pay Botswana at the end. According to this official, this will ensure that the bridge is not delayed. Zambia had started this project late when compared to Botswana, some of the factors that keep it on a back-foot and funding has only added salt to the wound, this publication understands.

When requesting for P1 402 436 080 for Roads Infrastructure Development for financial year 2019/20, Makgato had the Kazungula bridge in mind as she said the money will be used to continue implementation of the currently on-going projects like the bridge. The Kazungula project is jointly funded by governments of Zambia and Botswana with loans Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The objective of the Kazungula Bridge is to reduce transit time for freight and passengers, decrease time-based trade and transport cost and improved border management operations from the new One Stop Border Facilities. The bridge completion is expected to boost regional integration and trade and will be a key route linking the strategic economic areas like Durban harbour to at least seven SADC countries.

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Banking on Your Terms: Exploring the World of Self-Service Banking

23rd February 2024

In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?

Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.

This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.

Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.

Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.

Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.

At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.

With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.

Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services


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Botswana records over P6 billion trade deficit

7th February 2024

Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.

In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.

On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.

The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.

Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.





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Business sector optimistic about 2024

7th February 2024

The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.

The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.

Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.

All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.

Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.

During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.

However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.

In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.

On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.

Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.










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