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BERA to issue energy licenses by December

Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rose Seretse has hinted that corporations in the energy sector that have applied for licenses will know their fate before the end of December.

BERA is the brainchild of President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang who is also a parliament representative for Lobatse constituency.
Kebonang also ensured that BERA headquarters are placed in Lobatse, perhaps as his legacy and as a way of bringing back life to the now turned ghost town. Kebonang, Khama and cabinet also made sure the regulatory body started operation with a fat budget.

So far, with exception to board members and the CEO, top employees of the parastatal are said to be on F2 government scale salaries of close to P40 000 as the parastatal is currently on a recruitment rampage. Organisations that BERA will license are drawn in the electricity; petroleum products; coal; natural gas, solar energy sectors and other forms of renewable energies.

Speaking to WeekendPost this week, Seretse explained that they have been receiving applications since the organizations started operation in September. “At the moment no one has been given licenses but by December this year we would have given all those that qualify responses,” the state owned new enterprise CEO told this publication. Seretse emphasised that the license is not automatic to organizations as the energy sector corporations are subject to scrutiny and meeting conditions before being issued with the licenses.

According to Seretse, those that do not meet the requirements for licensing will be advised to improve their proposals for the license and will continue to be mentored. In terms of the fees, she said the Authority is currently consulting on fees to consider for the organizations applying for licenses. “There will be some fees to charge and we are consulting on the subject. We are also asking people to submit in their companies, shareholders and business plans – to see whether they deserve licensing or not,” Seretse said.

The new BERA Act 2016 provides that no person shall provide a service under a regulated energy sector unless he is issued with a licence. Section 34.(1) of the new law states “a person shall not provide a service under a regulated sector unless he or she is issued with a licence in the prescribed manner, by the Authority authorizing him or her to provide such service.”

The section further states under subsection (2) that “any person who contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P30 000 or, in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding 10 percent of its annual turnover, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.” 

Additionally, it is said that licences will be issued at a fee which includes application fees and annual licence fees among others.  However, the fees are believed will be reasonable, justifiable and appropriate for the type of activity. Meanwhile, at the end of every BERA investigations, if the Authority is satisfied that a contravention of the Act or condition of a licence has taken place, it may subject to Section 46: amend, suspend or revoke a licence; impose such fines as it may consider appropriate; and issue any necessary direction to the affected persons requiring them to take necessary steps to remedy the situation or desist from the contravention.

As a new entrant, BERA is responsible for licensing activities in the energy sectors; and balancing the interests of consumers, customers and licensees of the regulated entities including regulating network access for independent power producers, privately financed projects in the regulated sector. It also monitors and inspects those licences and enforces licence obligations and oversees project development in the regulated sector as well as ensures environmental compliance. Meanwhile WeekendPost has also established that the stakeholders are mostly concerned about BERA’s “transparency” and “independence” in executing its mandate.

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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW

20th March 2023

Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.

The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.

“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.

In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.  Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.

“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.

Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy,  Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.

“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.

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Food import bill slightly declines

20th March 2023

The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.

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Moody’s Reaffirms African Trade Insurance’s A3 Rating & Revises Outlook to Positive

13th March 2023

Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has affirmed the A3 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) for the fifth consecutive year and changed the outlook from stable to positive.

Moody’s noted that the change in outlook to positive reflects the strong growth in ATI’s membership base – that has resulted in improved portfolio diversification, strengthened capital adequacy, and the good profitability despite the challenging operating environment. In addition, ATI benefits from its preferred creditor status (PCS) amongst sovereign member states which protects it from the risk of default by member sovereigns through securing recoveries against claims paid on guarantees.

The strong membership and equity growth are some of the key considerations for the consistent reinstatement of ATI’s A/Stable rating by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating, over the years. Also supporting the rating affirmation are; consistent improvement in financial performance, commitment of its shareholders who continue to uphold the preferred creditor status, its high quality and conservative investment portfolio as well as strong relationships with a number of global reinsurers that provide significant risk-bearing capacity.

With the change in outlook to “positive”, ATI is now better placed to provide enhanced support to its member countries, attract additional shareholding and grow its portfolio. The positive outlook is an indication that if ATI continues to demonstrate its strong underwriting performance and ability to recover claims under the preferred creditor arrangements, among other factors, an upward pressure towards an upgrade may be generated. The Moody’s press release can be accessed from here

Commenting on the rating, Africa Trade Insurance Chief Executive Officer Manuel Moses said: “This positive revision is in line with our 2023 – 2027 strategic objectives in which we set to improve our rating outlook to positive in the first year, and achieve an upgrade of at least “AA”/Stable rating by both Moody’s and S&P within this Strategic Plan period. We aim to achieve this by doubling our exposures and increasing our capital to more than USD1 billion.”

ATI’s mandate is to provide trade-credit and political risk insurance, as well as other risk mitigation products to its member countries and related public and private sector actors. These insurance products not only directly encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment as well as local private sector investment in our member countries, but also contribute to intra- and extra-African trade.

About The African Trade Insurance Agency 

ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. Since inception, ATI has supported US$78 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s, which has now been revised to A3/Positive.

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