Derek Brink’s Senn foods is set to expand significantly encroaching into some of Botswana Meat Commission’s (BMC) safe zones such as cannery, creating hundreds of jobs in the process. Although the BMC monopoly denies Senn Foods an opportunity to export beef, the 35 year old business seeks to expand into cannery and biltong production for open markets.
According to the Botswana Trade and Investment Centre (BTIC) website, Senn Floods is explained as a privately owned domestic company that began its operations in 1982. The company currently has 480 employees. The company is into wholesome foods and their products are processed meat and beef. With the current expansion, Senn Foods is expected to hire an extra 200 to bolster the work force and has recruited some experienced former BMC employees for its cannery division. BMC recently retrenched and Senn Foods pounced.
This publication gathers that with the erection of a new bigger factory, Senn Foods which currently exports processed meat only, is on a mission to ready itself for the possible liberalisation of the beef market. Parliament has been procrastinating over the BMC monopoly Bill for the past five years. The bill is currently under deferred status. It seeks to abolish the BMC monopoly in the exportation of live cattle and beef. â€¨
The law was last discussed in Parliament when Christian De Graaf was still minister of Agriculture.
Because of the BMC monopoly, Senn Foods is not allowed to export beef. In the past they have explained that they are not exporting chicken because local prices are very hire. A senior employee at Senn Foods indicated that the company’s expansion plans are moving at a very fast pace in anticipation of a liberalised beef market, which could potentially triple the company’s earnings.
WeekendPost has further established that Senn Foods has potential customers inquiring from as far as Hong Kong, China and other Asian countries on the possibility of importing beef from Botswana. The SADC region, especially Angola and the DRC are also interested. The main impediment remains licencing because BMC is protected from competition. However, what frustrates businesspeople like Brink and others is the fact that BMC seems to shun other markets and is only interested in exporting to the European Union. Attempts by Senn Foods to apply for licences to export meat other than beef are said to have been turned down on a number of occasions.
Senn Foods already operates an abattoir which has also been revamped and increased in size. The abattoir slaughters cattle, goats, sheep, game and a host of other animals for the local market.
The considered expansion, it is said, also took into consideration the possible liberalisation of the beef market and possibly other meat for export.
SENN FOODS THE EMPIRE
Derek Brink, as part of the plans to spread Senn Foods in Africa, sold 49 percent in Botswana’s biggest cold chain distribution firm, Senn Foods Logistics, for R79.9 million ($7,7m) to RCL Foods in 2014.
RCL Foods also used the acquisition in keeping with its plans to grow its presence in Africa, which is projected to experience unprecedented economic growth in the next decade. “(Through this acquisition RCL and Vector will) offer world class logistics and sales solutions to existing and future partners in these countries,” RCL said in a statement.
Through these partnerships, Senn Foods intends to ease transportation of its goods through Africa now and in future. “Senn Foods has a lot of potential, it could employ more people, if the beef market is liberalised,” quizzed one of the company executives.
Senn Foods Logistics is involved in the distribution of dry, frozen and chilled foodstuffs. The firm currently represents almost all of Vector’s principals in Botswana, which includes Rainbow, McCain, I&J, Fry’s and QSR customers, Chicken Licken, Nando’s, Spur and Wimpy.
Senn Foods has in the past also acquired 100% issued share capital in Seafood Wholesale Botswana and in exchange, Seafood Wholesale Botswana getting 43% of issued share capital in Senn Foods. Seafood Wholesale is a distributor of chilled and frozen products including Senn Foods processed meats and dry goods.
THROW BACK – THE MONOPOLY DEBATE
Those who support the liberalisation of the beef market are of the view that if the BMC monopoly ceases, farmers would be able to sell as individuals or syndicates to whoever they choose. At the moment they are confined to selling to the BMC because of the monopolistic BMC Act. Farmers are interested in the Angola and Zimbabwe markets because they believe the BMC has neglected those.
The anti-BMC rally is also of the view that the EU sometimes makes it difficult for Botswana to sell her beef because of stringent standards. They stress that there need to address quality first and further note that if the government were to open up the beef market, it would be a free for all. They point out that only commercial farmers would benefit from the new arrangement. He argued that Batswana farmers, who do not have ranches, would be unable to develop their breed. But those against liberalisation are of the view that before Botswana opens up the market there is need to develop the local breed first.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.