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Will Masire rescue Air Botswana?

Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lt Gen Tebogo Masire has been appointed the Chairman of the Air Botswana Board. Masire’s appointment comes after the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo’s decision to dissolve the entire Air Botswana board recently.  

Masire confirmed his appointment but indicated that he will not say much until his full board is appointed.

As a consequence of the appointment, Masire has resigned his Board membership of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana with immediate effect. He awaits the appointment of his fellow board members. The question now is whether Masire will be able to help turn around the ailing Air Botswana by providing strategic leadership.  
In the 2016/17 budget speech delivered early this month, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo indicated that Air Botswana made a net loss of P165 million in 2015 compared to, P100 million in 2014, mainly due to high costs of maintenance of its old fleet of aircrafts. According to industry experts this fact alone highlights the magnitude of work that awaits Masire and his Board – turning Air Botswana into profitability is a huge undertaking.

Masire also comes at a time when the Airliner has no substantive General Manager. Its former General Manager, Ben Dahwa was shown the door at the same time with the former board. Despite his wealth of experience the Zimbabwean could not turn around the fortunes of Air Botswana, though some of his close associates pointed in the direction of political interference when reasoning his lack of delivery. Masire is well aware that the first experience of businessmen or tourists coming to Botswana is through the national airline, therefore he is heading a very critical institution that has failed to live up to expectations over time.

Aviation experts are convinced that the future of Botswana is hinged on aviation. They argue that there is need to enhance technology at the Airline and there is need to change the way Air Botswana is doing things. Air Botswana has been plagued with delays, an aging fleet, low staff morale, and other challenges in the many years of its existence.  
Masire’s first task to get things started is to hunt for a chief executive, and it is understood that there is already a lot of lobbying on the corridors.

The usual names are whispered on the ears of potential decision makers even before the post is advertised. Former PEEPA CEO, who has also headed Air Botswana before, Joshua Galeforolwe; former MVA CEO, Cross Kgosidiile; Moses Sekwakwa, the first captain of Air Botswana; Deputy Regional Director of ICAO for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr. Boitshoko Sekwati, are some of the names that are being considered by those who claim to have interest in seeing Air Botswana compete meaningfully in the aviation space.

The new chairman and his Board will have a decision to make in regard to Air Botswana fleet such as the four Jet BA 146 which have not been used for over a year.

WHO IS TEBOGO MASIRE?

A brief from the Tebogo Foundation website captures Masire thus: “Lieutenant General Masire, the 4th Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, graduated from the East African School of Aviation, in 1975 and the US Airforce Command and Staff College in 1988. He also holds a BSc Degree from Troy State University and an MBA from University of Southern Queensland.

He first worked at the Department of Civil Aviation as an Air Traffic Controller before joining the Military in 1977, when the Botswana Defence Force was formed.  He holds the record of being the only member of the first intake of 1977 still in the BDF thirty-five years on! During his 35 years of an illustrious military career, Lt. Gen. Masire has held various operational, staff and command appointments: one of them being the Chief VIP Pilot. He has the honour and privilege of being the only BDF Pilot to have flown all the four Presidents of the Republic of Botswana to over thirty countries.”

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Opposition Will Never Achieve Anything- Nkaigwa

8th April 2021
Haskins Nkaigwa

Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms.  “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.

“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.

“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.

“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”

Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner.  He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.

Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.

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Botswana benefits over P100 million in grants from Japan

7th April 2021
Ambassador HOSHIYAMA

Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.

The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).

“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.

“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”

Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.

From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.

“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.

“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”

In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.

TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.

“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.

“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”

Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.

“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.

“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”

Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.

Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.

According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.

“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).

“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.

“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”

The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.

 

“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”

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Magosi pushes for Cabinet reshuffle

6th April 2021
President Masisi

Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.

The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.

This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.

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