A brilliant idea was born off the Bot 50 celebrations. That the art of Botswana be celebrated, that local content be appreciated beyond the borders of Botswana, and even across the seas. Daniel Dube, a 19 year old computer science student at the University of Botswana and a local tech entrepreneur known simply as Kwasi collaborated to create Kgolagano.
Kgolagano is a content sharing app somewhat akin to Facebook but unlike Facebook, it is not a platform for users to post pictures of themselves in trendy clothes. Rather Kgolagano is a platform for a wide range of artists to share their content with the world.
Batswana photographers, painters, writers, musicians and many other artists have the chance to be seen and heard on an international stage provided by the Kgolagano app. The app went live at 01:00AM on the 3rd of October.
Daniel in a frenzy of Bot50 euphoria worked throughout the holidays to bring Kgolagano to life. For him it all began as he was following the progression of the Bot50 torch, molelo wa kgolagano, the flame of unity.
He couldn’t help but be inspired to use his talent to add to the glory of the Botswana golden jubilee celebrations. The app which was named after the Bot50 torch borrowed more than just the name. The interface has the app logo and in the background motion graphics of sparks from the actual molelo wa kgolagano, the Bot50 torch.
The app captured the imagery of Bot50 beautifully, and also the spirit of the independence celebrations; the spirit of bringing together various people for a single cause, the spirit of unity.
Daniel saw no better way to celebrate his skills than by giving others a chance to celebrate their own talent. With the idea of a content sharing app firmly in mind; he partnered up with Kwasi whose previous work with the farm connecta app made him an invaluable ally. T
ogether, code by code, they created a content sharing app which has even attracted the attention of Zeus, the local rapper. Zeus, through his company Jam for Brunch has pledged support for the Kgolagano app.
Jam for Brunch will sponsor the reward of content producers with the most popularity on the app. This reward is in addition to the incentive provided by Indie Africa Studios, the company which assisted in the development of the app.
Indie Africa Studios will provide free advertising and branding for popular content on Kgolagano. Since the app went live there has been an outpour of content, most of which was focused on the Bot50 celebrations and some from established artists and writers in Botswana.
Content from the prolific blogger and photographer, Jordan Indigo Isaac is featured on the app, of particular interest is his work titled 50 shades of basadi. The famous albino model Rumbidzai Motsopa has also featured some of her shoots. Contributors are continuously sharing content all showing the various faces of Botswana’s creativity.
This response was particularly pleasing to Daniel, a long time sympathiser of the arts. He spoke of how most artists struggle to get an audience and how they struggle to make a living. With Kgolagano he is happy to know that creative minds have a place where they can showcase their work and connect with their niche.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”