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DTCB looks to process non-De Beers stones

Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) is looking into the possibility of taking diamonds from non-De Beers mines for sorting and valuing. This was revealed by DTCB Managing Director, Mr Tobake Kobedi on Wednesday.

Speaking to the concept of more capacity to take more work from other customers, the Managing Director reiterated that as an organization DTCB desires not to only be limited to receiving Debswana Diamonds. “Currently our shareholder agreement as mandated by our establishment we sort diamonds from De Beers mines in Botswana only, but we want to make propositions to our shareholders context of building a legacy for Botswana that shall exist beyond diamond depletion, that look we have to be at the base and host of the entire value chain as a country because we recover the most valuable stones from our local pits,” said Kobedi.

He said DTCB plant capacity can sort and value over 33 million carats of Diamond in 12 months but currently only receiving 22 million carats from Debswana mines.  “Why can’t we take rough diamonds from Lucara, Ghagoo and other mines? Currently the resuscitation of Zimbabwe speaks possibilities of new diamond discoveries, why can’t we ready ourselves to propose intake from them and other mines in the region?” Kobedi posed these questions explaining the intention of DTCB strategy 2020 and its vision towards to ensuring that Botswana remains a Diamond Hub beyond depletion of the stones.

According to Kobedi positioning DTCB as a world class organisation was a pivotal conversation for the future of Botswana, he said it was imperative for Botswana to think beyond diamonds. “Diamonds are not finite and currently the discovered ore combined with tailings will take us just beyond 2050,” he said.

“What will happened after that? We need to  start training our people in different disciplines of the diamond industry ,polishing , sales and so forth and build  facilities and capacity that shall translate into Botswana being the Diamond hub of the world , and DTCB has a role to play here , for us as a country to start thinking of jewellery manufacturing and retail DTCB has to have volumes of  diamonds sorted and valued here from mines worldwide hence our quest as inclined in this strategy , this is a starting point for a revolution that will birth Botswana into a Diamond country with huge stake in the whole value chain and diamond pipeline subsequently  the much needed economic transformation.”  

Kobedi said his company desires to improve its performance and delivery to customers. He indicated that through the Strategy 2020, DTCB was re-aligning itself as a processing organisation with resultant impacts on processes, structures, systems and culture.

“When we commenced this realignment we had to part ways with about 75 of our employees not because there were ineffective and incompetent but because our business remodelling dictated that some of the duties were redundant and over lapping hence the retrenchments,” he explained.

By 2020 when a new sales agreement is penned down, DTCB intends to have improved its efficiencies and effectiveness as a rough diamond sorting and valuing operation. “We are creating a flexible and agile organisation, capable to respond to market needs and this in the context of transforming DTCB into an operationally excellent processing organisation as well as position DTCB to have capacity to take on more work for other customers,” Kobedi said.  

Joseph Ithobogeng, DTCB Chief Operations Officer shared that by 2020 DTCB intends to have attained recognition as a world-class processing organisation, be a more reliable, with repeatable and consistent delivery to customers as well as reduced pipeline  and increased market flexibility and responsiveness. “We will have reduced rework through efficient quality systems, reduced business risk and increased customer confidence in meeting sales deadlines by 2020,” he said.

Further deliberating on this the DTCB Management observed that to be a world class processing organisation that can take rough diamonds from diversified clientele out of De Beers recovery mines portfolio, increased cost efficiency with streamlined structures and  stock holding costs cannot be over emphasized.  

“We are building a capable, motivated workforce with high productivity levels and optimised capacity to enable new opportunities, we are half way into this 5 year strategy, launched in 2015 and we are confident by 2020 we will be able to submit and propose to our shareholder that we are ready for exploration of new opportunities to broaden our clientele in the rough diamond value chain and pipeline.”

DTCB recently commissioned state of the art Diamond Cleaning Plant, a laboratory of sophisticated chemical processes of quantum physics operations and complex scientific techniques of cleansing, valuing and sorting stones of intricate mineralogical occurrences that diamonds are. The plant is far much enhanced from precious facility housed in Jwaneng. DTCB is a 50-50 venture between Botswana Government and De Beers, the company avails 85 % of their sorted and valued diamonds to De Beers Sight holder Sales and 15 %   to Okavango Diamonds which is wholly owned by Botswana Government.

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Inflation spike building further upwards

27th October 2020
Inflation spike

In the coming months prices will go up and inflation will shoot sharply above the target of 3 percent to 6 percent towards the third quarter of 2021, the Bank of Botswana on the other hand will continue to withhold its knife on the Bank Rate. This is according to a forecast made by Kgori Capital in its recent Market Watch Segment.

Statistics from Statistics Botswana show that the recent 1.8 percent increase in the September inflation, from 1 percent in August, was a reflection of the upward adjustment in public transport fares (Transport (from -6.9 to -3.9 percent) in September 2020, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.64 percentage points.

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Plans to erase Edgars, Jet trademark from Botswana malls underway

27th October 2020
Edgars Jet trademark

Local anti-trust body, Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA), this month received back to back acquisition proposals from South African clothing retailers to wipe out their former rivals, Edcon, from Botswana malls.

Last week BusinessPost was in possession of Merger Notice No 23 of 2020 whereby a South African clothing retailer owner, Retailability Proprietary Limited, through Oclin Proprietary Limited, proposed to acquire parts of the Edgars business conducted by Edcon in Botswana (through Edcon Botswana), as a going concern, consisting of certain assets and identified liabilities.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year announced that Retailability will buy Edgars, after the latter filed for a business rescue plan in April after it failed to pay suppliers. This move will see Retailability add Edgars to its portfolio consisting of brands such as; Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style.

Retailability landed on Botswana shores 18 years ago with its flamboyant urban fashion Style which had 17 stores. Style, having almost the same target market as Edgars as it offers men’s and ladies’ contemporary and formal fashion, gave the 91 year old legendary clothing retailer a run for its money, and has won the battle as its parent company has taken over Edgars.

Retailability brands are synonymous with Botswana shopping centres and there are currently five (5) Beaver Canoe stores, 10 Style stores and seven (7) Legit stores across this country. The Beaver Canoe stores sell clothing apparel for men and boys only. The Legit stores have a fashion store format which focuses on the retailing of clothing, footwear, accessories, colour cosmetics and cellular products.

Retailability operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Many observers suggest that because of the deal with Retailability to swallow Edcon, most Edgars stores in Botswana will change their name and be branded Style. A sad tale for religious consumers of the Edgars trademark who got used to love their favourite brand for years.

According to CCA’s Merger Notice No 23 of 2020, Retailability is controlled by Clifford Raymond Lines (through a company which functions solely as a holding company of his interests in Retailability) and Metier Investment and Advisory Services Proprietary Limited (“Metier”). Metier is a private equity enterprise with investments in a number of industries spanning from healthcare, hospitality, FMCGs and telecommunications.

Retailability directors are mostly South Africans; Clifford Raymond Lines, Mark Richard Friday and Norman Victor Drieselmann. Only Nasreen Essack, who was appointed February this year, is a Motswana. He comes after Brian Thuto Tsima left on the same date. Retailability 100 percent owns Oclin Proprietary Limited, the company it is acquiring Edgars with, by a capacity of 3000 shares.

The target business, Edgars, offer textiles, cosmetics and cellular products. Edcon has a Motswana director, Charles Mzwandile Vikisi, a South African, Shane Van Niekerk and Zimbabwean Jethro Kamutsi.

“The Target Business comprises of two (2) Edgars franchise brands and private label stores across Botswana. These stores target middle to upper income customers and are home to a range of private label brands such as Free2BU, Charter Club and Stone Harbour, and a wide range of market label brands (such as Levi’s and Guess) for clothing, footwear and cosmetics.

In addition, the Target Business operates iconic Edgars Home and Edgars Beauty stores as store-in-store formats rounding out the department store offering in Botswana,” said CCA.
Foshini also lines up to take Jet Botswana from Edcon.

The Foschini Group (TFG) released a statement confirming its latest intentions to acquire Edcon assets or Jet for a cash purchase consideration of R480 million. This was after the business rescue practitioners offered TFG to buy Jet by that amount.

CCA is currently mulling on a proposed merger by TFG to take over Jet operations in Botswana. Merger Notice No 21 of 2020 from TFG came a few days before the Retailability proposal. In this merger TFG, acting through Foschini Botswana, want to take over “parts” of the Jet business conducted by Edcon through Jet Supermarkets Botswana.

TFG will be willing to add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents. TFG will also get Jet’s distribution centre located in Durban and certain stores in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini. Also part of this fat deal is that the company is looking to also acquire JET Club and all existing JET stock of no less than R800 million.

Johannesburg listed TGF owns Foschini Retail Group which owns the local operations called Foschini Botswana, the acquiring enterprise according to CCA merger notice. “TFG is not controlled by any enterprise/s and for completeness, the three largest shareholders of TFG holding shares greater than 5% as at 27th March 2020 are: Government Employees Pension Fund (16.2%) Public Investment Corporation (13.2%); Old Mutual Limited (6.7%); and Investec Asset Management (6.3%). The remaining issued share capital in TFG is widely held,” said the merger notice.

Only Abdool Rahim Khan is a Motswana in the Foschini Botswana directorship, the rest; Ganeswari Shani Naidoo, Anthony Edward Thunström and Gustav Jansen (alternate director) are South Africans.

According to the CCA merger, the Jet Business is Edcon’s discount department store division, selling clothing, footwear, homeware and some cosmetics as well as cellular products and targets lower-to-middle income consumers throughout Botswana. The Jet Business does not directly or indirectly control any enterprises, says the notice. CCA seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication to the following address.

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BOCRA, associates to provide broadband internet in schools

27th October 2020

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA signed a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Ministries of Transport and Communications (MTC), Basic Education (MoBE) as well as Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).

The MoA seeks to continue the collaboration that dates back to 2016 when the three parties first agreed to work together in a project aimed at computerizing and providing broadband Internet to primary schools in remote and underserved areas of Botswana.

The project benefitted 68 primary schools and 9 secondary schools through the construction of Local Area Network (LAN) in each primary school, provision of 5 Mbps dedicated broadband Internet to each Primary School and provision of Wi-Fi enabled tablets, laptops and related peripherals such as printers and copiers.

Further, the project will see the augmentation of computers in 9 Junior Secondary Schools with 30 laptops per identified school and employment of Information Technology (IT) officers at each primary school.

When speaking at the signing ceremony in Gaborone, Chief Executive of BOCRA and Chairperson of Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) Board of Trustees Martin Mokgware said the project’s ultimate goal is to facilitate pupils in schools and host villages to be able to play a meaningful role in the digital economy.

Mokgware indicated that this necessitates upgrading of existing Telecommunications infrastructure to high capacity broadband that will support delivery of education, accessibility to the quality Internet and usage of ICTs.

The Fund began its inaugural programme by sponsoring the provision of WiFi hotspots in public areas around the country as its first project. Following the successful implementation of public WiFi hotspots, the Fund identified Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and Mabutsane areas for mobile network upgrades, schools computerization and internet provision.

Conscious that the project would not be possible without buy-in and support from MoBE, MTC and MLGRD, the Fund facilitated the signing of the first MoU between the three parties in 2016 for implementation of the project.

BOCRA Chief Executive said the signing of this agreement is aimed at benefitting the Kweneng District, adding that they have already assessed the area and have determined that they will be covering 62 underserved villages and 119 schools, 91 of which are primary schools.

“This is a project for which the partner Ministries need to re-commit for its success. Lessons from the previous schools’ computerization and internet connectivity project require that we increase our involvement and resources dedicated to the project for it to be successful. It is my belief as the project coordinator, that we will not do things the way we did them during the first project, for if we do, then we will not have learnt anything,” he said at the signing ceremony.

The purpose of learning is so that there can be continuous improvement to minimize the length of time and amount of resources utilized, he said expressing confidence that their partners will step up to the plate and ensure they play their part in the implementation of the project and that it will progress smoothly having already tread along a similar path.

UASF’s role lies mainly in funding and project management. According to Mokgware, once the project is completed, the work to integrate ICTs into the classroom begins in earnest. Therefore, he said, the project will not succeed without full cooperation and oversight of partners.

“MoBE will put in place the necessary content and ensure that the curriculum is available to all. MLGRD will provide, among others, the enabling environment by ensuring readiness of the school’s infrastructure and necessary security.”

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