In an effort to accelerate the sluggish implementation of the Selebi Phikwe Revitalisation Strategy, Government has moved to advance the implementation by setting up a special Cabinet Committee to identify hurdles that impedes the successful execution of the strategy.
Addressing a full council meeting in Selebi Phikwe last week, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo said the recovery of the economy of Selebi Phikwe and the SPEDU region remains a priority hence Government’s continued efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution that will make Selebi Phikwe achieve full economic sustainability.
Kenewendo noted that the cabinet committee will address all shortcomings and fast-track all processes to ensure that the implementation of the strategy moves with speed. Kenewendo underscored President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s pronouncement regarding the re-birth of Selebi Phikwe which he made in his maiden speech as president on April 1st.
The committee is expected to address issues of regulatory delays like the Environmental Impact Assessment which councillors said often hold up projects thereby stalling progress and negatively affecting strategic growth plan. Echoing the president’s sentiments, Kenewendo reiterated that Government will particularly intensify its efforts to revitalise the economy of the SPEDU region to effectively respond to the closure and liquidation of BCL. She stated that Government through her ministry will continue with promoting investor fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that include low general tax rates as part of the revitalisation strategy in order to attract investors.
“The incentive packages are preliminary. Investors are looking for more, particularly a more enabling environment for business. The special cabinet committee that has been put together will look into the overall Phikwe business environment,” she said. The Minister also pointed out that Government will expedite the implementation of the Special Economic Zone through the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA). She revealed that the Investment ministry will work hard to service the land allocated to SEZA so as to make the environment enabling for business.
She commended SPEDU for its effort, noting that progress has been made albeit being slow. She pointed out that an accelerated pace of progress is anticipated once everything takes shape. She outlined targeted investment shows and strengthened collaborations and proper implementation of the Economic Revitalisation Programme as key in realising an increased pace of progress.
The Selebi Phikwe Revitalisation Programme is headed by former Bank Governor, Linah Mohohlo as Coordinator. Kenewendo added that a successful resuscitation of the Selebi Phikwe economy need full support of the local authority to facilitate investment promotion by making the environment conducive for business for thrive to be able to create employment.
“We must all work together to transform the country for the better. We must be active participants in supporting the National Transformation Agenda. We have a transformation agenda as ministry so as to improve our services,” said the minister who was in Selebi Phikwe on retreat with the leadership of the ministry and of all parastatals under the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry. Councillors hailed setting up of the special Cabinet committee as a welcome development as it proves Government’s sincerity of commitment to hasten the process of reviving the economy of Selebi Phikwe and the SPEDU region. However, they were sceptical of delivery as they bemoaned lack of delivery on the many promises made by Government ever since the closure of the mine.
Councillor Evelyn Kgodungwe of Thakadiwa Ward said that despite the many promises, there is nothing to show of Government’s commitment to deliver on all promises made. Kgodungwe noted that SEZA existed before the mine closure and wondered whether it has been expanded to cater for the sad realities of the mine closure.
Nominated councillor and former Mayor of Selebi Phikwe, Leonard Mojuta requested the minister to consider assisting resilient companies that have remained in Selebi Phikwe despite the closure of the mine which similarly affected their revenue. He said these loyal investors if assisted, can also help in creating sustainable jobs for the people of Selebi Phikwe. Mojuta emphasised the importance of not only looking for foreign investors while neglecting local ones that may have the potential to turn around the economy of the town.
Investment Land under SPEDU
Meanwhile, out of the 74 industrial plots under the authority of SPEDU, 15 plots have been allocated to investors. The plots were allocated in April 2017 through a tender process after consultation with the SPEDU Board. Additional 20 plots are under review to be recommended for direct allocation by end of June 2018. The allocated plots are not fully developed and there is no industrial activity as yet. The developments of these allocated plots are at different stages of development which include de-bushing, fencing and design. Construction for at least 50% is estimated to start by June 2019.
SPEDU’s Director for Strategic Projects, Jazenga Uezesa revealed in a correspondence to council that there are no jobs created by the 15 companies that have been allocated land except for those who were engaged during the preparation of the plots. SPEDU continues to engage these 15 developers to encourage them to develop the plots according to their development agreements.
SPEDU’s correspondence was addressing questions raised by Councillor Evelyn Kgodungwe of Thakadiwa Ward who had wanted to know how may plots out of the 74 plots under the authority of SPEDU have been allocated to investors, how many have been developed and with industrial activity taking place, the total number of people employed by the companies allocated plots and if SPEDU had any corrective measures to ensure development of the plots.
SPEDU is currently engaged with 41 companies that have expressed interest in establishing in the SPEDU region. These companies are at different stages of progression. Fifteen (15) companies are at Expression of Interest stage, six companies being one for Thune Irrigation Scheme, Botoka Temo, Urban Agriculture, Aviation Investment and Development Company, SK Group and AD-Infinitum Consultants-Blue Energy Africa are all at assessment and due diligence stage.
Two companies are at request for land allocation stage. The companies are Higher Motors and Silkroad. Another two are at Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) stage. These two companies are for Truck Stop and Bulk Fuel Station and Refurbishment of Bus terminal as well as development of a commercial centre.
Five companies for the Farm Electrification along Motloutse River project, Platjan Bridge Construction, Pula Dynes Pharmaceutical Plant, Cabling Data Centre and Oxygen Gas Air Separation Plant are at the stage of factory shells renovation. Four companies, Almaz, Asante Tech, Bulb World and Better Service Group are currently at the stage of installation of equipment while only seven companies are at operational stage. The seven companies in operation are Kwenantle and Tsarona for Lotsane Irrigation Project, NaPro, Dinesh Textiles, Allegiant, Nitaz Collection and FIL-AM Textiles.
According to SPEDU, one of the challenges hindering the development is insufficient strategic infrastructure that include inadequate number of factory shells and serviced land. The development, approval and implementation of the SPEDU incentives is one way that the Government is being supportive in facilitating SPEDU companies and investors.
Councillor Kgodungwe had also wanted to know the progress with SPEDU companies or investors who want to set up businesses in Selebi Phikwe, the challenges hindering envisaged development as well as Government’s commitment to facilitating SPEDU companies.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.