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Kasane-JHB route comes back to horizon

As the recently re-branded Air Botswana launches and re-introduces routes, passengers, including tourists and business people, who wish to travel by the national flag carrier to and fro Kasane-Johannesburg will have to wait for a little longer for the flight to take off.

The much anticipated Kasane-Johannesburg route will “re-introduce the route later this year,” as part of the national airliner ambition to expand regionally with introduction of new routes.  Air Botswana has not announced the exact date of the route, but confirmed it will be re-introduced after several years. Kasane is Botswana’s tourism hub while Johannesburg is Africa’s key area for commercial, industrial and entire business activities.

The route which many see as lucrative as it may cost a fare of P5 000 is expected to swap passengers who either wish to have a near first world feel of Johannesburg and those who want the touch of wild aroma while gazing at wildlife. After a long hiatus due to Air Botswana’s cancellation of the Gaborone- Cape Town flight which was operated on lease by Cemair, the national airliner will soon bring back the route. The Cemair-leased flight was grounded by the South African airline regulator.

The national flag carrier is expected to pierce through the air sky heading to the north next month in what Air Botswana called “support of increased commercial activities and movements of people between Botswana and its northern neighbours, Zimbabwe and Zambia.” Air Botswana in this case will re-introduce flights from Gaborone to Harare and Lusaka. In a press release, the national airliner explained that this will be a triangular operation starting off from Gaborone to Harare and onwards to Lusaka.

Reports state that Air Botswana is set to hit the Zambian skies with a maiden flight scheduled for 31 March. This flight comes back after a two-year pause and reports says the new twin-engine Embraer E-170 jet will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Air Botswana ceased the flights operation between Gaborone and Lusaka and Harare in 2016 in what the national flag carrier called “rationalization exercise to reduce operational costs on non-profitable routes.”

This was the time when the national airliner was incurring operational losses and was almost financially unsustainable leading it to a brink of collapse. Air Botswana has failed attempts to have it privatized and was almost sold for a song to in 2017. Also next month, the national airliner will beef up its Botswana-Zimbabwe link by a Gaborone-Bulawayo flight. Air Botswana Marketing Manager Tebogo Zebe said the national airliner’s endeavour is to improve its business strategy following its re-fleeting exercise of last year

While traversing regional skies may seem to be Air Botswana’s main target this year, the local routes will also be increasing as according to the national airliner. Locally, Air Botswana is also expected to introduce a link between Francistown and Kasane which will shortly be followed by Francistown and Maun.

Almost all the new routes will commence on the 2019/20 financial year. Air Botswana General Manager Agnes Khunwana said: “We are pleased to be able to reintroduce additional routes and we’re especially, excited that now Batswana will have improved domestic connectivity with an upgraded aircraft fleet that is faster, and more reliable.”

Air Botswana reduces fare by 25 percent

Coming with the latest developments Air Botswana has decided to decrease domestic flight fares by 25 percent. Zebe said these routes are for Gaborone Kasane, Maun Kasane, Francistown Gaborone and Gaborone-Cape Town flight.  Zebe said the reduced fees were introduced to encourage Batswana to use Air Botswana and promotion of local tourism.

“This route expansion is being supported by a revised fares structure which has been borne out of increased efficiency per seat cost due to the airline now operating bigger capacity aircraft. We have discounted some of our fares by up to 25 percent on certain routes, more especially our domestic routes,” said, Khunwana.

Re-fleeting and re-branding

Air Botswana continues to thrive for full privatization and in the last quarter of 2018 the national airliner bought a twin-engine Embraer 70 seater jet which was delivered last year in December. When re-fleeting, adding to the jet, Air Botswana also got delivery of two ATR 72-600s which came between November and December 2018. Re-branding followed re-fleeting where a new logo was unleashed inspired by Botswana diamonds which are represented by the three shapes that make up the tail of the logo grouped to suggest the shape of Southern Africa.  The ‘Going your way’ tagline was retained.

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Matsheka seeks raise bond program ceiling to P30 billion

14th September 2020
Dr Matsheka

This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.

“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.

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Lucara sits clutching onto its gigantic stones with bear claws in a dark pit

14th September 2020
Lesedi La Rona

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.

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Botswana Diamonds issues 50 000 000 shares to raise capital

14th September 2020

Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.

A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.

Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.

In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.

The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.

In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.

Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.

The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”

In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.

Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.

The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.

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