Invest Solar Africa (ISA) has set foot in Botswana emboldened by its success in reaching advanced stages in setting up two 20 MW plants in Zimbabwe which can power up to 45,000 households, and other positive developments in Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia.
In Botswana, the unique business model will provide an opportunity for local investors to explore its merits for partnerships and equity, as is the case elsewhere in some of its regional operations. ISA is one of the first renewable energy companies that has specifically been set up to develop renewable energy projects and own them within a corporate set up.
“The unique composition of being pro-environment, green, and pro-clean energy in a corporate set up is rare. It is truly a first to find a group of entrepreneurs, investments experts; engineers, and clean energy thinkers design a pragmatic solution of powering Southern Africa within a corporate set up. It’s a unique opportunity for diverse stakeholders in the age of seeking alternative sources of energy to drive economic prowess and reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” says George Manyere the founder and Non-Executive Director of Invest Solar Africa.
This development comes against the backdrop of growing power challenges in the region that have bedeviled Southern Africa for decades with limited success. I.S.A’s mandate ensures it focuses on renewable energy, developing, maintaining and financing income in building solar parks across Africa as an alternative energy source.
“Amid growing energy shortages, high demand for power in the region, and the consequent effect of this on regional consumers we need to tap onto a sustainable energy. We will power the region and ensure that no consumer is left powerless in the next 15 years. Tapping onto natural clean energy be it wind, sun light and air should be the strategic focus for Africa for us to be energy self-sufficient and independent,” says Manyere.
ISA plans to list on the BSE to drive its ambitious agenda to establish and install solar photovoltaic plants, which are expected to generate a capacity of 200MW in five years. The ISA project has been underway in countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique is at different levels of completion for each country.
For the regional thrust ISA has set up a competent team of investors, engineers, entrepreneurs and strategists. Combined they have managed unique competences in solar parks, clean energy and investments. These are; George Manyare – Founder & Non-Executive Director, Ainos Ngadya –Chief Executive officer, Dudu Garekwe – Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Brain Chindondondo the Chief Operating Officer.
“My vision is to have the opportunity to build a 50MW solar park in Botswana in the next three to five years. We will capitalize on the global political and financial will as demonstrated by The Paris Agreement on Climate Change which is to be implemented November 2020, as we set our eyes on the rest of the continent,” he says.
The Company is hopeful to be listed under the Botswana Stock Exchange in future. The management is urging potential local investors to partner with the Company on their quest to achieving the countries’ Vision 2036’s Sustainable Environment and on making Africa eco-friendly, after its application has been approved.
Invest Solar Africa is a wholly owned subsidiary of MHMK Capital, a private equity investment and advisory firm.
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.
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.
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”