As Selebi Phikwe struggles to recover from the economic crisis that swept the entire SPEDU region following the closure of BCL Mine, SPEDU Company in collaboration with Selebi Phikwe Town Council is trying hard to unlock new opportunities to resuscitate the ailing economy.
Speaking at the opening of the Selebi Phikwe Trade and Exhibition Show recently, SPEDU Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mokubung Mukubung revealed that they intend to host an Investment Conference next year in an effort to accelerate investment and to encourage sustainable development in Selebi Phikwe and the region.
The Business Investment Conference, Dr Mubukung said will bring together the business community in the region and across the country as well as international business community to deliberate on investment opportunities as well as addressing obstacles hindering investment progress. While SPEDU has made headway in attracting investors in Selebi Phikwe, the potential of investment to contribute to the economic development of Selebi Phikwe was dealt a heavy blow by the closure of the mine which was the backbone of the town’s economy. Without BCL, business has gone down as the buying power has been significantly affected by massive job losses.
The Investment Conference however will give participants an opportunity to build understanding around policies and all frameworks needed to enhance the attraction of investors into the SPEDU Region. The forum will bring together all concerned stakeholders to discuss and advance ideas and make important contribution to policies that have potential to deliver solutions that will address the Selebi Phikwe’s development challenges.
The Chief Executive revealed that as an investment promotion company tasked to coordinate investment promotion and economic diversification, they face challenges of investors dragging their feet to set up after they have been announced to the public, something that quashes the hopes of the public and affecting their confidence on the works of SPEDU. He noted that from now onwards, they will only announce to the public once the investors have already set up and made significant headway for the people to see for themselves and appreciate progress.
One example is Brite Star Aviation, an aircraft company that was to set up in Selebi Phikwe and has since dragged its feet to set up after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with six partners being SPEDU, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB), Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Selebi Phikwe Town Council and Ngwato Land Board on last year to reflect the parties intention to collaborate and together heighten the economic diversification initiatives in Selebi Phikwe and the SPEDU Region.
Despite the challenges they face, he said they have hope “and determination to forge ahead in unearthing sustainable projects that will resuscitate the economy of Selebi Phikwe and the region.” He acknowledged stakeholder forum that they have which continues to grow and deliberate on various issues affecting Selebi Phikwe and the region.
Dr Mukubung said that they have projects earmarked for the region which when fully implemented will help recuperate the economy of the region and ensure that the region becomes economically sustainable. He said they will market products produced from the region across the country as well as in international markets in order to open up an export market for products from SPEDU Region. He pointed out that the Selebi Phikwe Trade and Exhibition Show was one way of providing market for locally produced products from the region.
Trade Show and Business
Officiating at the opening of the Trade and Exhibition Show, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Nonofo Molefhi said that the show is a marketing platform for products from SPEDU region. He encouraged exhibitors to take advantage of the show as it serves as a springboard to catapults their business to sustainable status as it provides market for their produce.
Held under the theme: “Economic Diversification through Revitalisation,” Molefhi said the theme of the show calls for all stakeholders to introspect and utilise available opportunities to propel their business prospects in the region to a higher level. He said Government is “determined to address revitalisation and diversification efforts in the region.” The exhibitors at the show were largely from agriculture and manufacturing, key investment areas from which SPEDU is expected to create over 7000 jobs.
The minister further called on all stakeholders to play their part, pointing out that Government will play its part by expediting land servicing and facilitating provision of tax incentives to investors willing to invest in the region as well as addressing setbacks in governance systems hindering the ease of doing business in the country.
He revealed that P1.2 billion in investments prospects have been secured for the economic development of the SPEDU region. The SPEDU Region comprises of four geographical areas of Bobirwa, Tswapong North, Sefhophe, Mmadinare and Selebi Phikwe which serves at the commercial centre of the SPEDU Region. Molefhi said all villages making up the SPEDU Region must also make contributions that will help drive the revitalisation of its own economy.
Going forward, the Selebi Phikwe Trade and Exhibition Show is expected to serve as a regional show where the winners from trade and agricultural shows from villages making up SPEDU Region will showcase their winning products and services before proceeding to the National Trade and Exhibition show in Gaborone.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.