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Aviation Company to set up in Selibe Phikwe

Brite Star Aviation, an aircraft company from USA is set to establish in Selebi Phikwe and brighten the darkened economic cloud that have been hanging over Selebi Phikwe since the closure of BCL Limited in October last year.

The company, whose owners originate from Hungary signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with six partners being SPEDU, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB), Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Selebi Phikwe Town Council and Ngwato Land Board on Monday in Gaborone to reflect the parties intention to collaborate and together heighten the economic diversification initiatives in Selebi Phikwe and the whole of SPEDU Region.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Brite Star Aviation, Imre Katona noted at the signing ceremony that the company  will be responsible for the establishment of an aircraft manufacturing plant, composite manufacturing plant, aircraft service and maintenance centre, hotel and conferencing facilities, eco-safari centre and research and development centre that will include pilot and flight training academy. He said that the company will be able to create up to 3000 jobs for the region upon completion of its entire project. The manufacturing and assembly plant, the president said will be able to cater for a range of aircrafts from two seater to a 20 sweater plane.

Katona commended BITC and SPEDU for their brilliant presentations about the benefits of investing in Botswana. The presentations by the two entities have persuaded Brite Star Aviation as an investor to make the decision to establish in Botswana, hence the signing of a 10 year MOU with the six contracting partners to cement the collaboration agreements to deliver the project and revive the collapsing economy of Selebi Phikwe. Brite Star Aviation which already has an office in Gaborone has come to Botswana thanks to SPEDU and BITC.

Both BITC and SPEDU will jointly provide the necessary support relating to a One Stop Service Centre and liaise with relevant authorities such as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to regularise the necessary permits for the company to operate. They two agencies will also assist Brite Star Aviation in obtaining all the approved incentives for investing in the region as well as facilitating the development of the concept and investment in regard to the infrastructure that is required and necessary for the project.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of SPEDU, Dr Mokubung Mokubung the project shall be undertaken within a reasonable period of time and executed in phases with the initial stage comprising of the aircraft manufacturing plant and related infrastructure. SPEDU as the regional economic diversification agency shall provide the necessary support to Bright Star Aviation while also playing the role of Project Coordinator. SPEDU as a company is mandated to carry on the business of a Regional Diversification Agency that facilitates and implements strategic projects to diversify the economy of the region also called SPEDU. The SPEDU Region comprises of Selebi Phikwe being the administrative centre of the region, Bobonong, Mmadinare, and Lerala-Maunatlala political constituencies.

“As project facilitators, SPEDU’s primary role in this project is to link the project developers and all stakeholders in a historic venture to facilitate Brite Star Aviation to set up,” said Dr Mokubung Mokubung, the Chief Executive Officer of SPEDU. Dr Mokubung revealed that Brite Star Aviation “will bring its own funds to construct buildings and install machinery, thus contributing to Foreign Direct Investment in the voluntary.” Dr Mukubung stated that Brite Star Aviation’s venture in Selebi Phikwe stands as supreme demonstration of the fact that SPEDU’s mission of attracting foreign investment has come to fruition.

BITC as the national diversification and investment body is expected to jointly work with SPEDU to liaise with relevant authorities to enable the investor to operate. Speaking at the event, the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BITC, Meshack Tshekedi noted that after the closure of BCL Mine, Government called on all relevant stakeholders to respond to the situation in Selebi Phikwe and that his organisation has heeded to the call. Brite Star Aviation is coming to Botswana thanks to BITC and SPEDU.

“We embarked on an automotive and aviation journey to Europe in pour quest to develop specific and customised frameworks for this industry and that is how we met Brite Star Aviation when we visited Hungary,” said Tshekedi. With all the seven contracting partners having a role to play, BIUST shall be responsible for the requisite skills capacity building in the field of Aviation Engineering through its Faculty of Engineering and Technology. The University is expected to facilitate the setting up of an engineering faculty with the view to bridging the skills gap for the aviation industry.

BIUST’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Otlogetswe Totolo noted at the signing ceremony that the university “intends to use its best efforts to provide teaching, learning and expertise in aviation studies.” He revealed that BIUST recently signed an MOU with Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise concerning collaborations developing programmes geared towards imparting the necessity knowledge and skills in the areas of aviation and aeronautical engineering. In terms of the MOU, CAAB as a civil aviation authority and regulating body in Botswana will endeavour to provide the investor with all the required support including technical support where appropriate.

CAAB will provide the investor with a 10 hectare land at the Selebi Phikwe Airport on mutually agreed terms and conditions. It will also provide aviation resources and associated services, provide usage of air space, aviation personnel to assist with technical issues as may be required by the investor and facilitation of necessary approvals in terms of licensing, regulations, approvals and other services as may be required by the investor.

CAAB is responsible for registration of air transport, providing for air navigation services, managing airports as well as advising Government on matters pertaining to all aspects of civil aviation. CAAB Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Moshabesha said that the project has generated interest among the people of Botswana especially in Selebi Phikwe. He called on all the contracting partners to work hard to implement the project and ensure that it produces the intended results. Ngwato Land Board on the other hand as the land authority in the SPEDU region shall be responsible for the allocation of additional land its tribal territory adjacent to the Selebi Phikwe Airport for expansion of the project.

SPTC as the town’s administrative authority is responsible for economic revitalisation of the town and shall create an enabling business environment for Brite Star Aviation through timeous provision of relevant and requisite licences. It must also provide assistance and facilitate the development of the concept and investment in regard to the infrastructure development required for the project.

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Pan-African risk advisor Minet Group and Botswana’s Africa Lighthouse Capital acquire Aon Botswana

21st May 2021
Pan-African-risk-advisor-Minet-Group-

Strategic partnership offers inherent benefits of global knowledge, African insights, and local expertise and commitment

Minet Group and Africa Lighthouse Capital today announced that they have received regulatory approval and fulfilled all requirements to acquire Aon’s shareholding in Aon Botswana, and consequently will begin the process to rebrand to Minet Botswana.

Minet Group is a well-known and trusted pan-African risk advisory firm and Aon’s largest Global Network Correspondent and has been rapidly expanding its African footprint since 2017 through the acquisition of operations from global professional services firm Aon in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.   Minet has been delivering world class products and services across Africa for over 70 years.

Africa Lighthouse Capital (ALC) is a leading Botswana citizen-owned private equity firm focused on investing in Botswana companies and propelling them into regional champions, with over BWP 500 million in funds under management.

The new entity will be rebranded to Minet and will inherit deeply rooted respect by its clients for their innovative and locally relevant solutions, responsiveness, and efficient processes. Furthermore, it shall have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Barnabas Mavuma, previously Managing Director of Aon Botswana, continuing to lead the business as the MD supported by the local management team.

 “The addition of Minet Botswana to our growing African network affirms our belief in the great opportunities for growth that Africa offers, driven by rising consumer demand, huge investment in infrastructure and quick adoption of new technology,” says Joe Onsando, CEO at Minet Group.

“This transaction significantly adds to the diversity and skills base of our team and will have a positive impact on the range of products and services we provide. Our Correspondent agreement with Aon gives us access to global expertise and data driven insights and uniquely positions us to deliver risk advisory solutions that reduce volatility, thus driving improved performance for our clients. This is a very exciting time to be Minet in Africa.”

“The significantly increased Botswana citizen shareholding effected by this transaction gives rise to an exciting era of local market focus and growth for Minet Botswana,” says Bame Pule, Founder and CEO of Africa Lighthouse Capital.  “We intend to work with Minet Botswana’s local management team to further localise the business in terms of product development, while at the same time investing in local skills development and business development.  We look forward to this exciting journey, which will result in a significantly enhanced service offering for Minet Botswana’s clients.”

Consequently, and similar to the other members of the Minet Group, Minet Botswana becomes an Aon Global Network Correspondent, retaining its access to Aon’s resources, technology, and best practises, combined with the benefit of independent, local agility. This transaction furthermore significantly increases local shareholding, enabling operations to become even nimbler and better positioned to unlock new and existing growth opportunities.

Clients of Minet Botswana will experience continuity of product and service delivery standards in the short term. In the near future, they can expect an enhanced offering that combines agility with technology and product innovation, tailormade for their specific needs.

Together, Minet and ALC bring a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance, and an established track record in the region. These qualities, combined with Aon’s global capabilities and expertise, will bring clear benefits for clients.

This transaction vastly increases citizen ownership with shareholders who are going to be active in the business. The transfer of equity interests in Botswana to investors with local and regional expertise, presence and commitment will allow the businesses to move quickly in line with market movements, and to introduce products that are tailored to the local market.

“Minet’s commitment and drive to incessantly adapt to changing market conditions, and to innovate to meet the unique insurance demands of the African continent, while maintaining the high standards customers have come to expect – Onsando concludes – will continue to grow and give Minet a powerful competitive edge within the African market”.

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Africa scores $285 Billion IMF deal

21st May 2021
IMF-Managing-Director-Kristalina-Georgieva

French President Emmanuel Macron received 21 Heads of state and government officials from Africa during the recent summit on the Financing of African Economies that focused on Africa to take full advantage of the tectonic shifts in the global economy and the call for a joint effort for financial and vaccination support for the continent.

President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Most regions of the world are now launching massive post-pandemic recovery plans, using their huge monetary and fiscal instruments. But most African economies suffer the lack of adequate capacities and such instruments to do the same. We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind.

We, the Leaders participating to the Summit, in the presence of international organizations, share the responsibility to act together and fight the great divergence that is happening between countries and within countries.

This requires collective action to build a very substantial financial package, to provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as the means to invest for a better future. Our ambition is to address immediate financing needs, to strengthen the capacity of African governments to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery and to reinforce the vibrant African private sector, as a long-term growth driver for Africa.”

For her part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva highlighted that “there is urgency to focus on financing Africa. Last year, the pandemic-caused recession shrank the GDP of the Continent by 1.9 percent – the worst performance on record. This year, we project global growth at 6 percent, but only half that 3.2 percent for Africa.” Adding that Africa needs to grow faster than the world at 7 to 10 percent to meet the aspirations of its youthful populations, and become more prosperous and more secure.

Georgieva revealed that the price tag on the shot is estimated to be “$285 billion through 2025. Of this $135 billion is for low-income countries. This is the bare minimum. To do more – to get African nations back on their previous path of catching up with wealthy countries – will cost roughly twice as much. These are large numbers. They may seem out of reach. But to quote Nelson Mandela: impossible until it is done.”

The main areas of interest to achieve this include; first, end the pandemic everywhere, 40 percent of the population of all countries is targeted to get vaccinated by the end of 2021, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022.

Second, bilateral and multilateral development financing grants and concessional loans ought to go up. Over the last year, the IMF have swiftly ramped their financing for the Continent, including providing 13 times their average annual lending to sub-Saharan Africa. And are working to do much more. The IMF has also received support to increase access limits so they can scale up their zero-interest lending capacity through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

The IMF has also devised exceptional measures. Their membership backs an unprecedented new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $650 billion, by far the largest in their history. Once approved, which is intended to be achieved by the end of August, it will directly and immediately make about $33 billion available to African members. It will boost their reserves and liquidity, without adding to their debt burden.

Over the course of the last year, the IMF has built experience in facilitating the on lending of SDRs – thus managing to triple their concessional lending capacity as a result.

The Third being, actions at home. According to Georgieva “a crisis is an opportunity for transformational domestic reforms that increase domestic revenue, improve public services, and strengthen governance. For instance, digitalization can improve tax administration and revenue collection, and the quality of public spending. And with radical transparency, Africa can tap into new sources of finance – such as carbon offsets.

There is ample scope for countries to encourage private investment, including in social and physical infrastructure. New IMF research, published today, highlights that domestic and international investors could provide at least 3 percent of GDP per year of additional financing by the end of this decade.”

Reforms of international taxation can also support Africa’s growth. For a long time, the IMF has been in favor of minimum corporate tax rates to reduce the race to the bottom and tax avoidance. And they strongly support an international agreement on digital tax, something France has been a leading voice for. It is important to secure fair distribution of tax revenues, so they can contribute to closing Africa’s financial gap.

Georgieva called on to each and every one to step up. Reminding the attendees that from history they are all familiar with what a shock of this magnitude can do if not countered forcefully and effectively.

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Indian COVID-19 variant hits Botswana diamond sales

20th May 2021
Indian-Covid--19-variant-hit-rough-diamonds-sales---De-Beers-

De Beers’ Group, the world’s number one diamond producer by value, this week attributed the downfall of its sales for the fourth cycle week to the second wave of the Covid-19 variant (B.1.617.2) which was first discovered in India.

Diamond trading conditions have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis in India which is a major cutting and polishing centre for the world’s diamond trade.

The outbreak of the new variant has led to a humanitarian crisis with 280, 284 fatalities of the disease reported.

The London headquartered company said the sales in its fourth cycle fell to $380m (about P4.1 billion) down from $450m (about P4.8 billion) in the third cycle though it was higher than the fifth cycles of last year when the group shifted only $56m (P600 million).

De Beers emphasized that they continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

The De Beers group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver said the company continues to see robust demand for diamond jewellery in the key US and China consumer markets.

“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” said Cleaver.

Meanwhile Botswana health officials have confirmed the new Covid-19 variant in Botswana. The Ministry of Health and Wellness -through a press statement- informed members of the public that the variant (B.1.617), was confirmed in Botswana on 13th May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

Moreover the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting that the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

The India variant (B.1.617.2) – is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus which has been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

Nevertheless when speaking at Bank of America Global Metals and Mining conference, Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani said the company portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future enabling products and those that need to decarbonise energy and transport in order to meet consumers’ needs – from home appliances, electronics and infrastructure, to food and luxury goods.

“We see material opportunity for Anglo American to continue to set itself apart in terms of the performance of our diversified business, further enhanced through sector-leading 25% volume growth over the next four years, led by copper and the platinum group metals,” said Cutifani.

“Most importantly, as the supplier of such critical materials, it is the duty of our industry to ensure that in everything we do, we act responsibly and deliver enduring value for our full breadth of stakeholders, including our planet.”

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