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Inside Phikwe’s resuscitation project

Hardly a month into BCL provisional liquidation, President Khama who has been increasingly criticized for his silence on the BCL closure, has promised Selebi-Phikwe 7000 jobs.


Khama announced at a Kgotla meeting that the jobs would be created through former Bank of Botswana Governor, Linah Mohohlo who will coordinate and advice government on the future of the mining town. A communiqué from the office of the President indicated that Mohohlo will be serving under the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, coordinating and advising the government on all Selebi-Phikwe economic resuscitation undertakings.


Mohohlo, who has 23 years experienced as a Central Bank executive is said to be remunerated around permanent secretary’s figures. Quoted in a Kgotla meeting as aired on the national broadcaster, President Khama stated that Mohohlo will create thousands jobs in Phikwe, “I am talking about someone who has already started her job and she is already contacting several investors to set up business in Phikwe to create over 7000 jobs,’’ said President Khama.


Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, also rubbished worries that Mohohlo‘s role would contradict that of SPEDU and other  initiatives saying the economic and financial guru will act as the coordinator of all the private sector and government initiatives.
“She will be the centre of all economic undertakings, unpacking alternative trade and investment opportunities from tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture,” Morupise stated.


Mohohlo’s appointment comes after the private sector federation Business Botswana set up a team of corporate governance and investment experts to undertake rigorous business scouting towards unearthing value chain investment opportunities in Phikwe. The team includes former BCL Managing Director, Montwedi Mphathi, who is currently the boss at the consistently profitable, Botswana Ash.

 

Mphathi is believed to have been the success story at BCL as sources reveal he left the company with over 4 billion pula in reserves before handing over the copper –nickel giant to the infamous Daniel Mahupela. Lekwalo Leta Mosienyane’s task team which is believed to be already coming up with significant propositions to the government also include Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, Boitumelo Molefhe.

 

Molefhe who is former CFO of the once cash strapped Bokamoso Private Hospital  and former CEO of Debswana  Pension Fund is a shrewd investment magnet who has seen BPOPF grow to a magnificent investment  billion pula institution which continues to accumulate wealth through acquisition of various profitable businesses. Other members of the Private Sector mouth piece task force are FNB Research Economist, Moathodi Sebabole, Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO, Charles Siwawa, and former BAC Boss, Mike Lesolle.


The national Business Botswana task team which works hand in hand with Selebi-Phikwe’s Business community task team presented a 500 million Pula business proposition to the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry last week. Speaking to WeekendPost this past week a representative from the team revealed that they want various government investment arms like CEDA and BDC to fast track cash injection into the region.


 “We estimate an urgent need of more than 100 alternative business ventures which can absorb the just 5000 unemployed persons from BCL demise and that equates to over half a billion cash injection from financial lenders,” he said. Information gathered by WeekendPost also reveals that the Phikwe Business community wants subsidized rent and accelerated land allocation for investors.

 

SPEDU also revealed that though up against all the critics as a refurbished 18 month company and under a new corporate identity they have managed to attract investors. James Mathokgwane, Director-Community Economic Facilitation at SPEDU observes in his recent press release that amongst others, 200 jobs are coming through a multimillion Pula investment at Talana Farms, lashing out at Selebi Phikwe West member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse for his ignorance of SPEDU’s mandate.


Dithapelo had earlier accused government and SPEDU of failing Phikwe. However, BCL’s demise has been seen as a chance for the Special Economic Zones concept to take a significant roll out. Government passed the Special Economic Zones bill last year and saw the formation of the Special Economic Zones Authority which seeks to boost industrialization and Botswana’s competiveness in the global economy.

 

Selebi Phikwe has since been identified as one of the special economic zones. Analysts and economic experts observe that there could never be a better time to implement the initiative in Phikwe than now. Meanwhile, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Green Technology, Sadique Kebonang is to be working overtime trying to find new investors to inject billions into the liquidated BCL Group.

 

Contrary to his initial sentiments that BCL is better off closed, Kebonang who is only a month in as Minister is now of the view that it’s not over for the copper nickel mine. In fact, he told this publication last week that already 3 investors are showing interest in buying stakes in BCL Limited. Information gathered by this publication revealed that Kebonang is currently out of the country to meet Swedish magnets to discuss BCL resurrection.

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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