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2017 TOP EXECUTIVES

Business Writer REARABILWE RAMAPHANE puts his head on the bloc and vows that these executives impressed him in 2017. He adds them to his 2016 list which was spearheaded by Thapelo Tsheole of the Botswana Stock Exchange.

1. ANTHONY MASUNGA

 Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) has done great service to the localization theme. BTCL is the country‘s home grown ICT and telecommunication service provider. Masunga picked up the reins from Briton industry expert, Paul Taylor last year after the then wholly government owned Corporation transformed to a limited company and listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE). When he took over the driving seat on acting basis BTCL shares were poorly performing in the market to an extent that pre-listing naysayers and critics of privatization were saying ‘I told so’ to Hundreds of Batswana who had purchased the BTCL shares.

By the look of things then it was as if BTCL board of directors would go out to scout for an international expert to replace Taylor, however the Board took a bold decision and Anthony Masunga ascended to the helm of Megaleng House as CEO on permanent basis. He presided over the transition of the corporation into a corporate household name. The company rebranded to merge its beMobile & BTC fixed operations into one brand BTCL.

Within the blik of an eye, Masunga’s captainship saw BTCL share price quickly return to glory, bringing back investor confidence. By March this year BTC was the best performing stock on the BSE. Full year financial results as of march 2017 indicate that BTCL registered a massive 164% growth in profits before tax.

The company has created over P241.5 million wealth since listing and has distributed P90.3million in dividends to shareholders by March 2017.  Masunga stirred the company to 12 % growth in profit after tax for 6 months trading period ended 30th September. His leadership has introduced a number of changes. The company currently has a market capitalization of almost 2 billion and considerably doing well on the stock market currently trading at around P.160 per thebe compared to its initial offering of P1 per share. BTC has recently introduced customer centered services and engaged international companies on broadband internet and other ICT offerings. Certainly Masunga is doing things right at Megaleng House.

Masunga has BSC in Computer Science from the  HYPERLINK "https://www.linkedin.com/edu/mcgill-university-10890?trk=ppro_sprof" McGill University MBA, Business Administration from De Montfort   University and an Executive Development Program certificate from University of Stellenbosch Business School .He joined BTC from Mascom wireless as founding general manager of Be Mobile growing through the ranks until stirring the entire BTC Group.

2. LEINA GABARAANE

Renowned Botswana banker and home grown top executive, Leina Gabaraane has been at the helm of Stanbic Bank Botswana for the past 10 years and he is heading for the same post but at a bigger market space at the group’s Zambian operation. Gabaraane will take the reigns as Stanbic Bank Zambia Chief Executive Officer effective 18th January. He has led Stanbic Botswana to glory since his rise to the top post in 2008; in 2011 the bank was named Bank of the year in Botswana.

In 2017 Gabaraane delivered top performance in the corporate and investment banking space to the extent that he was head hunted by International banks including Stanbic Namibia. “Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to drive strong performance in line with the Group’s strategy and has continued to yield growth with each financial year. In addition, Stanbic Bank Botswana is one of the leading performers across the regional footprint, with a remarkably well performing Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) division,” an expression of confidence from Standard Bank Group Head of CIB, Clarkson.

Defying the odds Gabaraane’s cash spinning drive saw Stanbic Bank Botswana pay one of the highest dividends to its mother company, South African run Standard Bank . The bank won 2017 Best Foreign Exchange Provider in Botswana according to Global Finance Magazine. An accolade they also won in 2013, 2014, 2015 and last year.

Leina Gabaaane holds a B.Comm (UB) and an MBA in International Banking and Finance (University of Birmingham). His career started with the Botswana Development Corporation in 1995 where he joined as Assistant Operations Officer responsible for business development, project evaluation and monitoring.

3. PROFESSOR OTLOGETSWE TOTOLO.

Finally something is evidently happening at the Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BUIST) after challenges during formative and setup years. Former Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs at the University of Botswana took the reins and became the first Motswana to be entrusted with leading the historic academic institution. Professor Totolo looks determined to turn BUIST into what it was originally set out to be. BIUST was crafted to be a world class and leading research and development, innovation, science & technology center – Professor Totolo seems to be rhyming well.

BUIST held its first graduation  in February this year, where its Vice Chancellor, former president, Dr Festus Gontebanye Mogae donated 1 million pula for best student, with the latter to win between 20 000-50 000 in 50 years. Professor Totolo has put BUIST in the research and development, innovation science and technology space. The University conducts interactive workshops and dialogues with key stakeholders swell as the Palapye community in seeking solutions for environmental and economic problems.

As soon as he took the reins in September 2016, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo revealed ambitious strategy that will include substantial investment on research and development, human resource capability and collaboration with the industry.  The strategic plan envisages that the university will be at par with the world’s top universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oxford University and Harvard University among others by the year 2022 producing 6000 scientists and engineers by then.

Professor Totolo has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the University of Botswana; Master of Science (MSc) from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom; Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the University of London (UK).

He is an outstanding and seasoned university administrator, a brilliant scholar and an internationally renowned Soil Scientist. Totolo was also Director of the Center for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation (Cesrlki); Dean of Faculty of Science; Head of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana and other numerous positions that he served in. He serves on the BTRI board of directors amongst other key science and research institutions.

4. MATLHOGONOLO LETSOPA MPONANG

Ms Matlhogonolo Letsopa Mponang is the Deputy Executive Director- Corporate Services at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). She deals with issues of Finance, Human Resources, Facilities and Procurement, Information Communication and Technology, Marketing and Communications, Student Affairs as well as Administration.

Ms Mponang has worked for BTC as Training and Human Resource Development Manager; LEA as a Human Resource Practitioner and then Human Resource Manager; Public Enterprise and Evaluation Privatization Agency (PEEPA) as a Human Resource Manager; and most recently at the Water Utilities Corporation as a Human Resource and Administration Director. She currently sits on the Boards of the Okavango Diamond Company and Associated Fund Administrators.

This year she makes it to this list of 2017 top executives; she played a pivotal role as a member of the Progressive Institute in hosting international speakers, including Kenyan Law professor, PLO Lumumba. At BAC, Botswana’s premier business school, Mponang leads in crafting industry ready graduates. She is an advocate of industry ready graduates. Human resources capacity building is dear to her heart, and has assembled key associates to deliver on this goal.

 One can say by profession she is a Human Resource expert considering her previously held positions. Mponang organizes interactive platforms for young scholars bringing in captains of industries to inspire and transform mindsets of prospective young entrepreneurs and Future business leaders. She has a B.Sc in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. She is a seasoned Human Resource Practitioner who has operated in several environments being- government and most notably the public enterprise landscape

5. PIUS MOLEFHE

The Managing Director of Botswana Building Society is probably one of the less talked about but effective executives in Botswana. He has been leading the BBS for several years with impressive performances. However time has arrived to change the business model because BBS needs to catch up with innovative and digital financial service space operations of today. Pius Molefhe is set to make history by leading BBS to become Botswana’s first home grown commercial bank.

The society members gave Molefhe and his team a go ahead in a move that seeks to demutualize BBS and transform it into a limited company held by shares. BBS is the leading service provider of mortgage credit in Botswana. Mr. Molefe has served as Non-Executive Director of Cresta Marakanelo Limited. He previously worked for Barclays Bank of Botswana and Ministry of Finance among others.

At the Ministry of Finance, he was involved in the handling of all development projects. He was further involved in the development of policies regulating the financial services sector. He was also involved in the establishment of the Botswana Stock Exchange and also served as a Member of the Exchange main Board. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

PROMISING EXECUTIVE: MESHACK TSHEKEDI

He is the Acting CEO of Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC). Tshekedi took over the reins from Letsebe Sejoe last year. Tshekedi successfully launched Botswana’s One Stop Center. One his challenging tasks after taking over was the BITC signature event, an event that brings together multi sectoral international business participants – the Global Expo. His leadership delivered a well-organized Global Expo with over least 500 delegates and 200 exhibitors from Botswana and abroad.

The Expo featured among others, Global Entrepreneur and philanthropist English Billionaire, Sir Richard Branson. Tshekedi’s career commenced in 1997 as a Research Assistant, a position he held for several companies including University of Missouri, Department of Water Affairs and the University of Botswana. He worked for Debswana Diamond Company as Junior Process Engineer in 2002 and was later engaged by Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), a subsidiary of SABMiller as Strategic Planning Manager and Cash & Carry Manager.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION ESTER KANAIMBA-SENAI 

Outgoing Debswana Communications & Corporate Affair Manager retires after 40 years of splendid career. A radio journalist by training, she got her professional credits from the Tanzania School of Journalism back in the early 80s and then went on to the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa, Canada as a Commonwealth Scholar where  she completed her  Master of Journalism degree.

She started work at Radio Botswana in 1974, attended a basic radio production course at the BBC World Service Training Centre in London in 1978.  Kanaimba-Senai rose through the ranks until she became Assistant Director, News and Current Affairs, responsible for the production of news and all current affairs programmes. She was also responsible for starting and launching of RB2 back in 1992 as its inaugural Assistant Director.

Kanaimba-Senai then left the public service and joined the Botswana National Productivity Centre(BNPC at a Promotions Manager, then moved on to the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community as the Head of Public Relations.  She also worked at the Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA) now BITC before joining Debswana in 2008.

At a farewell dinner organized by Debswana last week Debswana Group Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo described Kanaimba-Senai as a professional perfectionist who mentored her employees. Bonyongo said Debswana would engage Esther Senai’s services whenever need arises.

THE ACCOLDES AWARDED HERE WERE NOT FROM ANY CONDUCTED STUDY OR SCIENTIFIC RESERCH, BUT WAS MADE FROM MEDIA PUBLICATIONS ABOUT THE AFORE MENTIONED CEO’S. OUR VIEWS ARE NOT ABSOLUTE WE DO NOT CLAIM ANY INTELLECTUAL MONOPOLY ON ANALYSIS OR RANKING BUSINESS LEADERS.

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MD, Board in BBS battle for supremacy

12th April 2021

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) moved swiftly this week to suspend BBS Limited from trading its securities following a brawl between Board of Directors and Managing Director, Pius Molefe, which led to corporate governance crisis at the organisation.

In an interesting series of events that unfolded this week, incumbent board Chairperson, Pelani Siwawa-Ndai moved to expel Molefe together with board Secretary, Sipho Showa, who also doubles up as Head of Marketing and Communications.  It is reported that Siwawa-Ndai in her capacity as the board Chairperson wrote letters of dismissals to Molefe and Showa.

Following receipt of letters, the duo sought and was furnished with legal opinion from Armstrong Attorneys advising them that their dismissals were unlawful hence they were told to continue to report to work and carry out their duties.

Documents seen by BusinessPost articulate that in the meeting which was held on the 1st of April, the five outgoing board members, unlawfully took resolutions to extend their contracts by a further 90 days after April 30 2021 as they face tough competition from five other candidates who had expressed interest to run for the elections.

Moreover, at the said meeting, management explained that neither management nor the board have the authority to decline nominations submitted by shareholders or the interested parties which is in line with Companies Act and also BBS Limited constitution.

Molefe also revealed that as management they cautioned the board that it was conflicted and it would be improper for it to influence the election process as it seems they intended to do so.
“Nonetheless, in a totally unprecedented move in the history of BBSL, the board then collectively passed the unlawful resolutions below. Leading to the illegitimate decisions, the board had brazenly directed that its discussions on the Board elections should not be recorded totally violating sound corporate governance,” reads the statement released by management this week.

When giving their legal advice, Armstrong Attorneys noted that notice for the AGM should state individuals proposed to be elected to the board and directors have no legal authority to prevent the process.

Armstrong Attorneys also noted that, “due process” cited by board members are simply to ensure that the five retiring Directors avoid competition from interested candidates to be appointed to the BBS Limited board.  The law firm further opined that the resolution of the 90 day extension of term of the five directors pending re-election or election was unlawful.

Molefe expressed with regret that BBS has been suspended from trading by BSE until the current matter has been resolved. “I am concerned by this development and other potentially harmful actions on the business. As management, we are engaging with stakeholders to mitigate any negative impact on BBS Limited,” expressed a distressed Molefe.

He assured shareholders and the rest of Management that they are working very hard to ensure that the issues are being dealt with in a mature manner.  BBS which hopes to become the first indigenous commercial bank has seen its shares halted barely four months after BSE lifted the trading suspension of shares for BBS following submission of their published 2019 audited financial statements.

According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the local bourse, Thapelo Tsheole said the halting of shares of BBSL is to maintain fair, efficient and orderly securities trading environment. “The securities have been suspended to allow BBS to provide clarity to the market concerning the recent allegations which have been brought to the attention of the BSE relating to the company’s Board of Directors and senior management,” said Tsheole.

Meanwhile in their audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020, BBS recorded a loss of P14.6 million as at 31 December 2020 compared to the loss of P35.7 million for the comparative year ended 31 December 2019. According to Molefe the year under review was the most challenging for the bank, its shareholders and customers endured the difficult economic environment and the negative impact of the coronavirus.

He revealed that as the bank, they were forced to put in place several measures to ensure that the business withstands the impact of coronavirus and also to cushion mortgage customers from the effects of the pandemic. “Since April 2020 up to the end of December 2020, BBS assisted 555 mortgage customers with a payment holiday,’’ he said.

This is the bank whose total balance sheet declined by 12 percent from P4, 626 billion for the year ended. 31 December 2019 to P4, 088 billion as at 31 December 2020. As if things were not bad enough, total savings and deposits at the bank declined by 14 percent from a balance of P2, 885 billion as at 31 December 2019 to P2, 494 billion as at 31 December 2020.

On a much brighter side, BBSL mortgage loans and advances improved from P3, 401 billion to P3.408 billion with impairment allowance significantly improving to P78, 648 million from P102, 532 million for the year under review, representing a positive variance of 23 percent. BBS maintained a strong capital base with capital adequacy ratios of 26.32% for the year ended 31 December 2020.

Molefe was optimistic and anticipated a positive outcome during the implementation of the new BBS corporate strategy, whose main drive is commercialization of operations, which is in full force.
“It will be spurred on by the positive results we have achieved for the year ended 31 December 2020, and our planned submission of our banking license application to Bank of Botswana which we anticipate to operate as a commercial bank in the third quarter of 2021,” he alluded.

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Mphathi promises people centred, environmentally sensitive new BCL

12th April 2021
CEO of Premium Nickel Resources Botswana: Montwedi Mphathi

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Premium Nickel Resources Botswana (PNRB), Montwedi Mphathi, has said his company will resuscitate the formerly owned BCL assets and deliver a new, sustainable and cutting edge mining operation.

The new mine which will leverage on modern and next generation technology, will be environmentally sensitive and cognisant of the needs of its people and that of the communities around the area of influence.

In a statement last week, Premium Nickel Resources Botswana and its parent company, the Canadian headquartered Premium Nickel Resources announced that they have now completed the Exclusivity Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Liquidator.

The MOU will govern a six-month exclusivity period to complete its due diligence and related purchase agreements on the Botswana nickel-copper-cobalt (Ni-Cu-Co) assets formerly operated by BCL Limited (BCL), that are currently in liquidation.

On February 10, 2021, Lefoko Moagi, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security of Botswana, affirmed in Parliament a press release by the Liquidator for the BCL Group of Companies, stating that PNR was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire assets formerly owned by BCL.

“This is encouraging for the company and for Botswana. Our ambition in this new project dubbed “Tsholofelo” is to redevelop the former BCL assets into a modern, environmentally sensitive, efficient NI-Cu-Co-water producer where sustainability and the people are at the forefront of the decisions we make,” said Mphathi in a statement last Thursday.

“We also understand that no matter how successful we are at building the “New BCL” , our success will only be measured at our ability to create local wealth , skills and support the continued transition of local economy to a longer term sustainable base.”

The next step during the exclusivity period will be the completion of the definitive agreement. Simultaneous to this the PNRB will be conducting additional investigative work on site to further its understanding of the potential of these assets.

Specifically the company will complete an environmental assessment, a metallurgical study, a review of legal and social responsibilities, a review of the mine closure and rehabilitation plans and an on-site inspection of the legacy mining infrastructure and equipment that has been under care and maintenance.

Mphathi said they continue to monitor the global Covid-19 developments noting that they are committed to working with health and safety authorities as a priority and in full respect of all government and local Covid-19 protocol requirements. PNRB has developed Covid-19 travel, living and working protocols in anticipation of moving forward to on site due diligence.

“We will integrate these protocols with the currently applicable protocols of Ministry of Health & Wellness as well as District Health Management Team ( DHMT) and surrounding communities,” reads a statement released by the Gaborone based Premium Nickel Resources team.

PNRB is looking to become a catalyst in participating and building a strong economy for Botswana, with a purpose where respect and trust are core to every single step that will be taken. “Our success will mean following international best-in-class practices for the protection of Botswana’s environment and the focus on its people, building partnerships and earning respect, through cooperation and collaboration,” explains PNRB on its website.

“We are committed to Governance through transparent accountability and open communication within our team and with all our stakeholders.” Mphathi, a former BCL Executive, is widely celebrated for achieving unprecedented profitability at the mine during his tenure as General Manager.

The Serowe-born mining guru obtained a Diploma in Mining Technology from Haileybury School of Mines in Canada. He later obtained a B.Eng. Mining degree from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Mphathi went on to City University in London, UK and obtained a M.Sc. in Industrial and Administrative Sciences.

Before ascending to the top country managerial role of Premium Nickel Resources. Mphathi was General Manager of Botswana Ash (Botash), Southern Africa’s leading salt and soda ash producer.
He was at some point linked to Debswana top post, which is still to date not substantively filled following the death of Managing Director, Albert Milton, in August 2019.

With Mphathi out of the race and now leading the rebuilding of his former employer, the top post at De Beers- Botswana joint venture is likely to be filled by current acting Managing Director Lynette Armstrong, a seasoned finance executive with unparalleled experience in the extractive industry.

“We are happy to hear that former General Manager of BCL, Mr Montwedi Mphathi, has a relationship with the new Company that intends to resuscitate the mine, he is an experienced Mining Executive who knows BCL better, we want the mine to be brought back to life so that our people can be employed ” said Dithapelo Keorapetse Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West recently in Parliament.

BCL was liquidated in October 2016 following a series of losses and government bailout occasioned by low Copper prices and allegedly poor Investment decisions and maladministration. Recently PNR CEO, Keith Morrison said his team of seasoned experts both from Canada and Botswana are committed to resuscitate the BCL assets and deliver a high performance mining operation.

“The World, Botswana and the mining industry have changed dramatically since mining first started at the former BCL assets in the early 1970s. The nickel-copper-cobalt resources remaining at these mines are now critical metals, required for the continued development of a decarbonized and electrified global economy,” he said.

Morrison added: “As we move forward, it is our goal to demonstrate the potential economics of re-developing a combination of the former BCL assets to produce Ni-Cu-Co and water in a manner that is inclusive of modern environmental, social and corporate governance responsibilities.”

He explained that to attain this, extensive upgrades to infrastructure will be required with an emphasis on safety, sustainability and the application of new technologies to minimize the environmental impact and total carbon footprint for the new operations.

“Our team remains committed to working with the local communities and all of the stakeholders throughout this period and we encourage anyone with questions or feedback to reach out to us directly,” he noted.

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Lucara extends sales deal with Belgian diamond cutter

12th April 2021
Lucara extends HB Antwerp’s contract Signum technologies

Lucara Diamond Corporation, the Canadian 100% owners of iconic Karowe mine, this week announced the extension of its supply deal with Belgian diamond midstream giant HB Antwerp.

The definitive supply agreement is in respect of all diamonds produced in excess. of 10.8 carats in size from its rare gem producing Karowe diamond mine located in the Boteti district of Botswana.
Large, high value diamonds in excess of 10.8 carats in size account for approximately 70% of Lucara’s annual revenue.

Though the Karowe mine has remained fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Lucara made a deliberate decision not to tender any of its +10.8 carat inventory after early March 2020 amidst the uncertainty caused by the global crisis.

Under the terms of this novel supply agreement with HB, extended to December 2022, the purchase price paid for each +10.8 carat rough diamond is based on the estimated polished outcome, determined through state of the art scanning and planning technology, with a true up paid on actual achieved polished sales thereafter, less a fee and the cost of manufacturing.

“Lucara is beginning to see the benefits of this strategy in accessing a broader marketplace and delivering regular cash flow based on final polished sales,” said Lucara CEO, Eira Thomas on Wednesday.

“We believe these early results warrant an extension of the arrangement for at least 24 months to determine if superior pricing and market stability for our large, high-value diamonds can be sustained longer term.”

The Canadian junior miner initiated a supply agreement with HB for large stones from its Botswana Karowe mine in July 2020, after pausing its tenders shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic began.
The deal enables Lucara to sell the rough diamonds to HB at a price based on an estimate of the polished outcome, which the companies determine using diamond scanning and planning technology.
Once HB sells the goods, it adjusts the price that Lucara receives based on the actual selling price of the polished, minus a fee and manufacturing costs.

The extended supply deal will follow the same payment terms as the initial agreement, and will be in effect through to December 2022. Lucara said in a statement this week that the agreement also provides increased tax revenue and beneficiation opportunities for the government of Botswana, and creates a streamlined supply chain for Karowe’s rough.

“More than a supply agreement, this collaboration structurally embeds a new transparent and sustainable way of working in the diamond-value chain,” said HB CEO, Oded Mansori.
“For the first time, different partners of the value chain are fully aligned, sharing data and information throughout the process from mine to consumer.”

Mansori added: “We are truly proud with this innovative and straightforward collaboration that has proven itself through the volatile and uncertain reality of 2020. We are confident to achieve even better results during the term of this new contract and demonstrate the power of a true partnership.”

Lucara, which early this year secured extension of Karowe mining license to 2040, announced over P2.4 billion funding for Karowe underground mining expansion project a fortnight ago. The Vancouver headquartered top large diamond producer says this supply agreement deal extension with HB will bring about regular cash flow for Lucara using polished pricing mechanism. Furthermore, the company says the deal has potential revenue upside, particularly suited for Lucara’s large, exceptional diamonds.

In the main, Botswana will benefit increased tax revenue and additional beneficiation opportunities for the Government and communities around Karowe mine. A streamlined supply chain that achieves alignment between Lucara and HB to maximize the value of each +10.8 carat diamond produced at Karowe.

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