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Thuli’s multi-million pula Gamble

The Botswana Gambling Authority (The Authority) has begun the process of selecting an operator for the Botswana National Lottery. The non-refundable one Million Pula applications are now open and the lucky applicant will use the same license for the period of ten years with annual licence fee of the same amount.


Gambling Authority Chief Executive Officer, Thulisizwe Johnson, announced at a media briefing earlier this week that each applicant will be charged the non- refundable fee. He further stated that even though an annual P1 Million licence fee will be charged for the next ten years, the regular tax will apply as well as the gambling levy. The Gambling Authority explained the National Lottery Request For Application (RFA) process, and further offered details on how the lottery can support economic diversification.


The Gambling Authority, a statutory body mandated with licensing and regulating the gambling industry in Botswana, recently started a search for the nation’s first Lottery operator. This comes three months after the Gambling Authority Board approved the issuing of licenses for Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting and Bingo. The process towards selecting an operator for the Botswana National Lottery started earlier this month following the publication of a guiding document for the bidders.


The draft document has been made available up to mid-month to allow the public an opportunity to comment directly to the Gambling Authority before the final RFA is published. The RFA is the guide document which shall be used to provide information on the process and the information required from applicants to be assessed for the award to the successful operator.


The draft document sets out details of the National Lottery opportunity together with the process and requirements connected with submitting the application. The applicants will be required to provide a complete solution for the lottery, including: setting up and running the lottery; designing, building, financing and operating the requisite infrastructure and systems; designing, distributing and marketing lottery games and ensuring a smooth transition from award of licence to operations.


At the press briefing, Johnson, Gambling Authority’s CEO, said the search for the operator for the national lottery has begun and the licence will be for a period of ten years. He also said the main criteria to awarding the licence hinge on the investment required for operating the lottery and the knowledge and the systems. Mr. Johnson says the lottery will provide some form of entertainment for people while also adding to government revenues.


“Through the National Lottery Distribution Fund, money will be disbursed for good causes, mainly for sports, charities, the arts, and other good causes. Even winning the jackpot can change a person’s life although statistically it’s a rare occurrence,” the CEO said.


It was revealed that the assessment process for choosing the operator will involve due diligence, in-camera interviews, scheduled public hearings, site visits and presentations. The preferred operator will then be announced in September. The Authority says once the licence has been issued and the lottery is up and running, it is expected that it will result in increased revenues for the government and also support economic diversification. Furthermore, there is expectation of job creation and support for other businesses that will be outsourced.


Mr. Johnson emphasised that in preparation for Botswana’s first national lottery, they intend to make the process as transparent as possible, citing the anti-corruption policy and whistle blowing as some measures put in place to mitigate against corrupt practices. Moreover, auditors will be appointed to oversee the process and provide assurance of the process. The Gambling Authority CEO said that they are looking for experienced lottery operators with prior experience in penetrating and managing a new market. This move is done to ensure responsible gambling at all time, which includes crackdown on illegal gambling and protection of the weak and vulnerable that might fall prey to gambling addiction.


The chosen lottery operator is expected to impart skills to citizens through training and development, setting the stage for possible succession by a local operator in later years. Apart from acquiring new industry skills, newly started businesses owned by young people will be given priority during local procurement tenders. The Authority says a well run lottery system can help the country reduce its dependence on diamonds revenue and charter a new path to economic diversification.


While it will be Botswana’s first national lottery, the practice has been growing with popularity in Africa. According to World Game, a site that provides lottery fans with a global overview of how that game has taken root worldwide, Lottery games aren’t quite as numerous in Africa as they are elsewhere, but there are certainly enough of them to give players the chance to win huge sums of money for the cost of a single ticket. Part of the reason why the number of games is lower in Africa than it is in Europe or Asia relates to geography and population. Simply put, there are vast regions in Africa that are populated by a relatively small number of people, and it is therefore not as necessary for every region to have its own range of lottery games.


In Africa there are several countries with a national lottery; Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and South Sudan. South Africa has two of the most popular – the Lotto and the Powerball. Lotteries in Africa are most often viewed as games that are to be played primarily for entertainment purposes, with the excitement of having a chance of winning a jackpot being its own reward.

 

This seems to be the predominant view to lottery games the world over, although of course some players take their participation much more seriously than others. It is widely predicted that lottery games in Africa will continue to grow in popularity, not only among African players themselves but also with lottery players around the world now that it is possible for them to buy African lottery tickets online.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Despite its growing popularity, there is little consensus amongst experts on the true economic benefits of the game on a large scale. Many experts, particularly economists, argue that the economy would get more boost if consumers bought goods and services instead of lottery tickets. They further argue that spending money on businesses helps spur much more economic activity than gambling on the lottery.


Lotteries run for or by governments are used to support public programs such as infrastructure development, public safety, public health and education. The principal argument used to support lotteries has focused on their value as a source of "painless" revenue, contributed by players voluntarily spending their money.


Lottery tickets have become a significant source of funds for governments, and the winners obviously benefit greatly. But lotteries for the most part have a regressive impact. Studies have found that the burden falls disproportionately on people with lower incomes, who typically spend a greater portion of their income on lotteries than those with higher incomes. It is a burden because the odds are worse than other forms of gambling.

 

The usual presumption is that people know what’s good for them, and that they’re better off if you allow them to spend their money on whatever they personally value the most. For many people, gambling may be just another form of entertainment. But for others it is a very destructive compulsion.


THE RFA EXPLAINED
 

The draft RFA has already been published in the Authority’s website for public comments. The RFA is the guide document which shall be used to provide information on the process and the information required from applicants to be assessed for the award. The purpose of the publication is to give the public an opportunity to comment directly to the Authority before the final RFA is published. In that regard, the Authority has invited the public to provide comments on the DRAFT National Lottery RFA document which has been made available for download on their website. March 28, 2017, will mark the opening period for enquiries.


Once the one million pula application fee has been paid, the applicant will receive a detailed RFA. Bidders will be invited for a conference to take place on the 18th April and the final date for receiving applications is June 30th 2017. Completion of proposal evaluation, site visits and presentations to the Authority will be on 25th August and announcement of the award is scheduled to take place on November 17th, 2017. Johnson said there will be an open tender for a credible and reputable auditor who shall be the overseer of the project.   
As many people view this as an exclusive opportunity for the rich, the Authority CEO; Johnson sees it differently, “Contrary to popular belief, it is very cheap!”


According to Johnson, the investment required for operating the lottery and the knowledge and system are important criteria for award. He advised interested parties to form business consortiums and or seek technical partners or look for experienced operators to bid with.
“We want the lottery to be run by Batswana and we will train them,” said Johnson.


He added that lotteries are done for good causes because they provide government with tax revenue and energies people as they seek to guess the numbers that will come out of the draw. Through the national lottery distribution fund, money for good causes, mainly sports, charities and the arts are disbursed. “Lotteries can change one’s life. Winning the jackpot can change one’s life even though statistically this is a rare occasion,” Johnson pointed out.

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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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