Following his arrival at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Minister Kitso Mokaila could find himself handing over Air Botswana to Tshekedi Khama’s Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, if what was recently relayed at the parastatal’s board persists.
Mokaila was shuffled from the former Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. The reason advanced for moving Air Botswana to Tshekedi’s ministry is that most of the Air Botswana customers, roughly about 70 percent of them are tourists. This publication has been informed that the Air Botswana board chaired by former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander, retired Major General Tebogo Masire was recently briefed on the possible developments following the re-organisation of Ministries.
The decision is also accompanied by a development that will see a P2.6 billion tender to acquire four jets and turboprops being cancelled and re-started at the new parent Ministry.The tender process was almost at the final stages of due process. Three companies, Bombadier of Canada; ATR of France; and Embraer of Brazil had entered the race to scoop the lucrative deal. The Acting General Manager of Air Botswana, Agnes Khunwane had mentioned in passing at the Samson Guma Moyo chaired Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies that they intend to acquire new Aircrafts in the near future.
Over a pro-longed period of time, Air Botswana has been using ATRs. The Air Botswana engineers and pilots are trained and upskilled in ATRs. The stock and tools are customised to ATRs. Weekend Post gathers that even this time around, ATR had put a convincing bid and was on the verge of outdoing Bombardier and Embraer. In fact this is the tender that forced former Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo into the controversial trips to Brazil, Canada and France to do some form of window shopping for aircrafts. The trip has since invited the wrath of the Parliamentary Committee because Mabeo and his then permanent secretary were found to be not fit to decide on the mode of aircraft to be procured by Air Botswana.
ATR’s PROPOSAL WAS APPEALING
In its proposal, ATR of France was to also buy back Air Botswana aging fleet at market price. Indications from Air Botswana sources are that the whole fleet has reached end of useful life.The Board is said to have been impressed with this offer. In addition ATR had pledged to further train Air Botswana engineers and pilots for free on the new Aircrafts in the event that they get the job. The Board had also considered the fact that its staff and the tools for maintenance were compliant with ATRs models. ATR was most likely to get the job to supply the three turboprops.
BOMBADIER WANTS “ALL OR NOTHING”
For its part, Bombardier, which sliced in half the 2016 delivery forecast for its C Series aircraft this week, and said it expected full-year revenue to be at the lower end of its previously announced range, had made it clear that it wanted to do the job as a whole, “all or nothing”. They wanted to supply both the jets and the turboprops. The Board had considered Bombardier for the jets, but following their “all or nothing” demand, they were dropped on the basis that their proposal was inferior to that of ATR when it comes to turboprops. Bombardier, which has agents in Botswana, has in the past supplied the Presidential jet to Botswana. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks operate the KODIAK, also from Bombardier for various logistical missions and departmental duties as well as for anti-poaching and law enforcement.
The setback is the latest for the CSeries program, which took years to get off the ground and has been hit by production delays and cost overruns, causing the Montreal-based plane and train maker to agree to a C$1 billion ($774 million) investment from the Quebec government. The company remains in talks with the Canadian government about further funding.
Bombardier Inc. cautioned that private-aircraft prices will remain under pressure as it posted a wider-than-expected loss, adding to Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare’s burdens as he tries to turn around Canada’s largest aerospace company. Reports from Canada indicate that shrinking demand for corporate planes–typically Bombardier’s most profitable business–is weighing on Bellemare as he works to increase profit and cash flow.
The planemaker cut production of its Global 5000 and 6000 business jets last year, and delayed entry into service of another model by two years as sales of large private planes dropped.
EMBRAER WAS CONSIDERED FOR JETS
The Brazilian company is currently doing well in the market and was most likely to be considered for the supply of jets, which is dominantly their stock in trade.
World demand for jet aircraft in the segment of 70-130 seats from 2016 to 2035 will total 6,400 units, according to the forecasts of Brazilian aeronautical company Embraer disclosed at the Farnborough Air Festival in the United Kingdom.
Embraer projects demand for aircraft with between 70 and 90 seats to total 2,300 units while for aircraft with 90 to 130 seats demand is expected to reach 4,100 units, with the overall demand in the period valued at around US$300 billion.
The Brazilian company also said that the world’s fleet of jet aircraft in the segment of 70-130 seats will increase from 2,670 in operation in 2015 to 6,690 in 2035, with the fastest growth of all commercial aviation segments.
AIR BOTSWANA AG GM WITHDRAWS FROM SHORTLIST
As the search for a permanent General Manager at Air Botswana continues, the Board could find itself in a position where they present just one name for consideration to Cabinet. This publication has learnt that Agnes Khunwane withdrew her name from the shortlist of candidates earmarked for the position.
It is understood that she is not happy because she was initially the only candidate left in the shortlist after another set of five fell off on technicalities and lack of business background, but the Board chairman, Masire was unsettled by the prospect of submitting just one name to cabinet for consideration.
The chairman then embarked on a head hunting exercise which led him to former MVA Chief Executive Officer, Cross Kgosidiile. When Khunwane heard of this development she wrote a letter withdrawing her name, pushing the Board back to square one. It is not clear if she will be coerced to rescind her withdrawal or Kgosidiile, a former Air Botswana Finance Manager will be unchallenged before cabinet. The twist into the whole matter is that Kgosidiile left MVA without an explanation for his departure.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.Â BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTCâs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that âthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistownâ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that âthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTCâs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industriesâ.
He further stated that through this marathon, âwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active societyâ. Â He concluded by stating that âBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at largeâ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that âhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathonâ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the âCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communitiesâ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.