Women close labour gap
By Aubrey Lute
The number of working women has been on the rise for many years. In most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the proportion of women aged 25 to 54 in the workforce continues to increase.
According to De Beers’ mining insight report, in 1980, this figure stood at 54 per cent, by 2010, it had risen to 71 per cent, albeit with significant differences in the rate of growth between countries. Today, in the US, 69 per cent of Millennial women aged 18 to 33 are in the labour force, compared with 78 per cent of men in the same age group. This is a significant shift from the Baby Boomer generation: in 1963, the participation of men aged 18 to 33 stood at 88 per cent, and women of the same age group at 41 per cent.
Meanwhile the Women in Mining event held at the GICC this week in Gaborone under the theme; Women In Mining Botswana: Addressing the Conceptual Challenges and Seizing Transformation Opportunities, showcased an increased women participation in the workforce especially, mining. The primary target of the conference is to inspire and promote women in the mining industry. This unique women empowerment conference furthermore invites all women looking to make their mark in any male dominated sector or business.
According to Statistics Botswana 2016 Formal Sector Employment Survey, overall employment increased by 0.2 percent (786 persons) from 403 681 persons in September 2015 to 404 387 persons in March 2016. Sharing the statistics at the Mining Conference, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Edwin Batshu indicated that of the 404 387 employees, 203 146 representing 50.2% were males while 201 242 representing 49.8% were females.
The Mining industry, where the Conference is located, and is trying to push more women numbers, there are 10 439 male employees and 1756 female employees. The Minister acknowledged the gender disparity in the mining industry and said this calls for breaking down of barriers. The Minister said Government has come up with interventions to promote women’s participation in this sector. On a good note though, the narrowing gap in the general labour force participation between men and women is also leading to a corresponding decline in the difference between their earnings. Women’s earnings growth is one direct result of the 21st century’s significant increase in female participation in tertiary education. The percentage of women across the world aged 25 to 64 who have completed higher education rose from 21 per cent in 2000 to 38 per cent in 2015.
The Minister Health and Wellness, Dorcas Makgato observed that women also have increasing power and influence in leadership roles in business and politics. She said female economic independence is bringing about changes in how women influence economies. She observed that Opportunities are there to be taken by a human being. “You are a first a human being and secondly a woman.”
Makgato stressed that one needs to have a clarity of purpose in order to effectively chase after their dream. She encouraged women to refrain from always making excuses as to why they can’t fit in male dominated industries. She said Women must create time to achieve their goals and it is never too late to start. “To sleep like a king, work like a slave. Naturally women have been blessed with the gift of multitasking and they need to utilize it. Women should build profitable networks in every sector, and define their engagements on social media ensuring that it is meaningful. Every woman should be in charge of her destiny” she said. At 51 years Makgato is already preparing for her retirement.
Speaking at the Women In Mining event, the Director Of Gender Affairs Department Ms Thapelo Phuthego encouraged all attendees to promote gender equality and empower the girl child who most of the time is faced with challenges and societal pressures , challenging all to live up to this year’s international women’s day theme: Be Bold For Change. She further sighted Zambia economic growth research with states that when women are given the necessary resources the economy grows.
Dr Siza Majola, a Former Mining Executive & Group HR Manager gave a motivational talk by sharing her story on how she began her mining career path in Lobatse as a geologist, a job she admitted did not feel like her calling. Still within the mining industry she later pursued a career in communications and stakeholder engagements. She encouraged women to understand their self-value and bring who they are to the work place, noting that a woman without self-values will never understand her worth.
Research shows that it’s not only the earning power of women that is changing as a result of increased participation in tertiary education. Their role within the home is also evolving as their responsibilities as providers for their families increase. The CEO of the National Development Bank Lorato Morapedi shared the same sentiments. She said women should never aspire to be like man, because they were created as women for a purpose. “Most women allow fear to be a stumbling block before their aspirations,” she said.
Nametso Ntsosa –Carr, WIBA president proudly announced that the conference was organized by a WIBA member, Ms Malebogo Marumoagae. She called on aspiring entrepreneurs to network, forge lasting partnerships, have mentors and seek assistance in order to begin sparkling in male dominated industries, sighting that women should overcome their fears and boldly pursue their dreams taking advantage of all Government available initiatives.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.
The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
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.
Food import bill slightly declines
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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