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SPEDU to host investment conference

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.   

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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