In its endeavour to develop high profile, high value tourism niche products and opportunities, SPEDU, in collaboration with Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO), is developing tourism Master Plans to guide the development of critical high value tourism clusters at Letsibogo, Dikgatlhong and Thune Dams.
The Master Plans development with the exception of Thune, will be funded under the Sysmin Re-Employment Account, SPEDU has reported in its 2017 annual report. The Master Plans among other things will guide the nature and extent of the required primary infrastructure, address Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and processes of investor engagement.
Once the Master Plans have all been approved, SPEDU together with BTO, will embark upon trade and investment missions to allow private sector to invest in the required enterprises, the annual report has revealed. According to the annual report, the project will result in increased inward tourism investment, a wide sector employment base, increased tourist numbers, spend and bed nights in Selebi Phikwe and the Region and further downstream opportunities for Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises uptake. It reveals that project will substantially contribute to the growth of the Gross Domestic product (GDP) as propelled by non- mining economic sectors.
The Thune and Letsibogo Master Plans have already been approved while the consultancy for Dikgatlhong Dam Master Plan was terminated due to failure by the consultant to deliver on the Terms of Reference. SPEDU has reported that another consultant will be engaged in 2017/18 financial year to produce the Master Plan. SPEDU says the primary objective of the project is to increase the tourism profile of the SPEDU Region, positioning it as a reputable and destination of note for tourism and recreation in Botswana.
To achieve efficiency in its economic diversification drive and to enhance investment setup in the region, SPEDU in collaboration with Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) reviewed the Selebi Phikwe Development Plan. The main objectives of the review of the Development Plan include infusion of SPEDU projects plan into the town`s developmental footprint, to align zoning of land use with economic sectors, to consider future expansion of the town as well as to clearly mark the township boundaries.
The new development plan for town has since been approved by the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and thus it is the development guide that SPEDU and SPTC use in their investment promotion endeavour. SPEDU has noted in the report that four areas were considered under the review being, Enterprise Zone, Tourism Zone, Urban Agriculture, Urban Core (mall, bus rank and other developments). The annual report records that the inclusion of these four zones in the new development plan will accommodate the key sectors that have been identified to promote inward investment into the Region.
SPEDU achievements so far include the Selebi Phikwe Airport Runway Refurbishment which started with a feasibility study funded by the European Union. The study recommended resurfacing of the airport runway, apron and taxiway. The Airport is now open for operations and has satisfied quality assurance standards. SPEDU says the refurbishment will allow air traffic into the Region for both passengers and cargo.
The regional investment company further reported that they are in dialogue with airliners and other stakeholders with the intention to commence operations of air charter services and related services such as refuelling and Aviation academy at the Selebi Phikwe Airport.
Other achievements are the Agri-business Projects which include Kwenantle Farms, Motloutse River Farm Electrification project, Tsarona (Lotsane Dam Irrigation Scheme), and the National Agro Processing Plant.
Kwenantle Farms project involves Irrigated horticulture and grain production by Kwenantle PTY LTD. According the annual report, the Company took over Talana Farms from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) in August 2016 and since created 130 jobs. Motloutse River Farm Electrification Project entails construction of a 42 km power line along the Motloutse River from the Selebi Phikwe sewage ponds to the Bobonong/Gobojango Bridge.
The project was delayed by the requirement to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which was completed in August and October 2016. Thirty farmers are reported to have applied for connection and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is working on estimating and costing the services to be offered to the farmers.
Tsarona (Lotsane Dam Irrigation Scheme) project involves private South African investors to cultivate 250 ha land for horticulture near Lotsane Dam. The project whose operations started in Novembers 2016 has currently created 60 jobs and is expected to create 190 jobs once fully operational. The National Agro Processing (NAPRO) Plant is also in operation since commencing its commercial production in August 2016.
The plant’s business model was fashioned to reduce post-harvest losses by value addition resulting in the production of a variety of food stuffs. According the report, NAPRO has procured a total of 66 039 kg, being 45 572 kg tomatoes, 8 755 kg cabbage, 4 348 kg onions, 3 268 carrots and 4 094 kg of beetroots. NAPRO has secured a market from various supermarkets such as Choppies, Daily Needs and Sefalana Group and 31 jobs were created.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.
It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.
The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.
The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.
One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.
The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.
Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.
The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.
In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.
The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.