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ABM targets to raise 10 millionaires in 10 years

ABM University College, one of Botswana first private tertiary education institutions has been applauded for their recently opened Entrepreneurial Development Center.


The center which is to be located in GaPhatshwa village, in Kweneng District, will incubate youth enterprises and mentor young Botswana entrepreneurs through business capacity building, equipping them with market scouting skills and strategic entrepreneurial practices to build reputable sustainable profit making entities.

 
The aim of the institute is to create 10 million young Batswana millionaires over a period of 10 years through this initiative. According to the Executive Manager of ABM University College, Daisy Mmabatho Molefhi, the centre comes after they realised as an institution that the skills equipped to their graduates go to waste due to harsh entrepreneurship challenges after university life.


“Our Alumni leave the institution with technical knowhow and necessary skills to start their own businesses, but the reality on the outside frustrates them due to lack of funds, physical space and other business challenges,” She said. Molefhi explained that her  institution is committed to ensure young Batswana get the best education system that enhance entrepreneurial spirit, which translates to business development , economic growth and provision of employment opportunities .


The High Commissioner of Kenya to Botswana, Jean Kimani, applauded the initiative by ABM, citing that it comes at a time when the government of Botswana was on the move to empower young entrepreneurs and develop conducive environment for private sector to setup job creating businesses, “I want to applaud and congratulate Mrs. Molefhi and her dedicated ABM team  for the passion and drive towards  coming up with this  important initiative.

 

It comes at a time when Botswana is in the quest to diversify and transform its economy. ” She added that fostering entrepreneurship was a priority for government and private sector and was the only way the country can back new ideas and create new jobs as well as consequently ensure quantifiable economic growth.


For his part, area Member of Parliament for Lentsweletau, Vincent Seretse, showered Molefhi’s team with accolades for an initiative he noted will go a long way into creating much needed employment as, “the location of the center in GaPhatshwa will create jobs for locals, talk of cleaners, helpers, center facilitators, security personnel just to name a few.”


Vincent Seretse who doubles as Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, also indicated that developments such as the entrepreneurial facilitation centers complements his ministry efforts to diversify the economy and creates sustainable investments. “The mandate and purpose of this center which is to develop the entrepreneur and equip them with necessary business skills, is also one of our core mandates at my ministry,” Minister Seretse said, stipulating that the center will support his ministry‘s Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) efforts as well as domestic and foreign-domestic partnership investments.


ABM University also launched its Entrepreneurship clubs on Monday. The club intends to further facilitate and empower young people into starting business and creating employment for themselves through partnership and networking. Speaking at the official launch dinner, ABM Managing director, Daisy Molefhi, further explained that her institution is commitment to promoting entrepreneurship in young people adding that the club which was officially launched by Minister Seretse intends to create 10 young millionaires in 10 years.


“I know as I pronounce this target it seems unachievable but watch and see, we are committed to make it happen,” Molefhi promised. Minister Seretse reiterated her words; “It is the business that drive the economy, not politicians. Politicians only come up with policies that are influenced by business people.”


Seretse further encouraged club members to take up their rightful position in creating wealth for the country and unleashing employment opportunities for themselves: “As enterprising young people, know your role and understand that it is significant in shaping the direction of Botswana’s economic growth.”


Prince Mochau, ABM Alumni, rose to praise ABM University College for producing business entrepreneurship that can grow the country’s economy and create jobs, “After graduating from ABM, I opened a security company that is currently doing well in the market because of the teaching I got from ABM and I want to commend the institution for furthering its teachings into realistic capacity building initiatives which will empower and promote more youth entrepreneurs.”


Botswana Innovation HUB


Meanwhile on the same Monday this week, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with African Innovation Foundation, an initiative which intends to boost and catalyse innovation spirit in Botswana. According to BIH, the signing of MoU was to make official, a partnership which targets to strengthen ecosystems and commercialise innovation in Botswana, as well as promote a culture of entrepreneurship across the country.


The agreement was signed by Alan Boshwaen, Chief Executive Officer, BIH and Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) Director at the Africa Innovation Fund (AIF). BIH executive, Tigele Mokobi, told WeekendPost in an interview that the MoU was an extension of the collaboration established in June last year and will focus on four areas, being to develop an effective national competition and robust BIH process for vetting innovations and mobilizing IPA applicants, support the national systems of innovation, build capacity of local innovators and broaden existing networks and Mobilise resources to implement selected activities.


“We are very excited about the partnership and looking forward to a fruitful coalition towards enhancing innovative entrepreneurship” He said. Speaking after signing the MoU in GaPhatshwa village, during a recent ABM Entrepreneurial Development Center official opening, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, Director for Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), noted that AIF was looking forward to supporting BIH in its efforts to strengthen the innovation landscape in Botswana and to develop mechanisms that enable local innovators to achieve scale and commercial viability.    

 

“BIH has taken significant strides in developing local capacity and we are delighted to welcome them into AIF’s Pan African network of innovation enablers working to unleash the potential of African innovators” she said


BIH Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen also expressed his delight over the partnership, stipulating that it comes at the right time when BIH is in the process of launching BIH Fund, a seed-fund aimed at commercialising viable innovations locally. He stated that adoption of the IPA process of vetting innovation will bring credibility to BIH innovation fund process.


“BIH will work with AIF towards building a robust screening process and mobilising local innovators across the country based on a rigorous selection process. A series of workshops and events will be organised at a national level to leverage the strategic collaborative efforts,” he explained.  


Minister of Tertiary Education, Research and Technology, Alfred Madigele applauded both ABM University College and BIH for a fruitful quest towards promoting entrepreneurship “Tertiary education institutions must induct student as a source of innovation and ideas , partnership with renounced institution like Botswana Innovation Hub is also equally important,” he said.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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