A lot of writers, commentators and politicians have written and talked about youth development. We have all heard that the future belongs to our youth. Without the youth there is simply NO future to talk about. This is the naked truth that no one can deny. We therefore cannot afford to play politics with our youth because by doing so we will be playing with the future of this beautiful country. But what are we doing to prepare our youth for the future we so passionately talk about?
Realising that we have a growing number of young people who will soon have or have assumed a significant political voice, the government has come up with a number of policies meant to appease the youth and thus create a false sense of safety not only aimed at soothing the youth into submission but also to subtly buy their loyalty. With these policies the government is playing with a boomerang, it will fire back.
These policies are not founded on solid national development principles and will not serve to develop our youth into desirable future leaders. We will breed corrupt and bitter leaders who will destroy the foundations of our democracy as well as what will have remained of our economy. What future then will be inherited by generations to come? Although the government appears to be caring for our youth, the contrary is true. The youth programs are nothing more than naked self preservation stunts meant only to perpetuate the continued rule of the current government without any due consideration for the long-term survival of our nation.
Fortunately we have a youth that is relatively educated, passionate, energetic, and innovative and increasingly becoming brave. Taking them for granted will not work any more. The reality is that they are now awake and can quietly see for themselves what is going on. They will fend for themselves. They are busy forming companies and applying for government grants as advised by government hoping that they will find some temporary relief from the harsh realities of unemployment and poverty and prepare themselves for the future they deserve. These young people are now watching the government with eagle eyes. The ill advised government publicly announced policy of hiring only BDP members will back fire in a manner that will shock the current government to its core.
The youth hold the keys to the future of our republic. If the government really cared about the youth we should not be having youth unemployment of over 22 % in such a small population; we should not be having the youth programs we currently have; our development agenda would be clearly youth centric and visibly youth focused. The youth programs of providing grants to untrained youth, ipelegeng, tirelo sechaba, unsupervised internships and many other ill conceived programs will not take the youth anywhere. How do you give a grant to someone to start a business when you know that the person has not been prepared in any shape or form for such a business adventure? I cannot believe a caring government would spend millions if not billions of Pula on the youth without first identifying their aptitudes, likes and talents, then training them and giving them appropriate opportunities to practically develop their talents. We need first to understand the developmental needs of our youth and apply our minds in those specific areas so that we can develop well rounded youth who will effectively drive our tomorrow.
Without jobs, the youth are ‘’forced’’ to form companies and to take grants when they do not have a clue of how to run a business. This is what some people call classical tokenism which is based on the illusion that people cannot see through these underhanded political manipulations. It is clear that the youth cannot win tenders without paying a price. Some will pay a price to win these tenders, but unfortunately many of them will not be able execute the projects well because they only had the ‘know who’ and not the ‘know how’. This results in a multitude of youth who are frustrated and totally disillusioned because of these failures. When these young people fail, the same government resort to calling them names such as ‘irresponsible young people who lack focus, direction and fortitude’, when in fact; it is the government that is, dare I say, grossly irresponsible.
Any youth development program that leaves behind the parents (community), the business community and the labour movement will not proper. The government is the father of the nation and must ensure that the policies they adopt will develop the youth fully for future diverse business and social challenges. But the government must realise that it cannot do this alone. The community, the business community, the labour movement must all come on board through an effective government facilitated process.
When a young person graduates from university or from a technical college, they must know that, if they have fully applied themselves a bright future awaits ahead for them. Each young person must have a clear career path that will lead them toward their preferred future. The only thing that should interfere with that career path is the failure by the concerned youth, not because there is no opportunity.
If you look at any job advert in our country, every employer including government is looking for at least five years experience. Where do our youth get the five year experience from? There must be some deliberate government policies that seek to ensure that each company in Botswana has a youth development programme; that they have youth that they mentor and coach from various institutions; that during the holidays these youth go for vocational work experience in these companies including government departments.
These youth must know that if they apply themselves fully they have a future in that company or department. Debswana has voluntarily done this for many years and ought to be congratulated. Other companies including government should be persuaded to do the same. The business community and the labour movement ought to play meaningful roles in youth development, as without the youth everyone including government is doomed to fail in the long term.
The government should be facilitating the development of world class local companies, in building construction, road construction/maintenance, agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, even mining and beneficiation. This is where the government should be spending their CEDA, LEA and YDF money; preparing for the effective youth entry into industry. These world-class local companies would then employ the youth and train them fully to become experts and managers in their chosen fields. Some of these youth may eventually start their own businesses allowing the economy to continue to grow organically and absorb more youth.
How can a sincere and caring government give grants to the youth to start agricultural projects for example; when these young people are not trained in agriculture; when these young people do not have land; when there is no water to support such agricultural activities? A caring government will fully involve the community here. After fully training the youth so inclined, this government will seek partnership with the communities for land acquisition and will then provide water, electricity and road infrastructure to support the agricultural projects. The community will play a pivotal role not only in providing land but also in providing labour, accommodation and generally support for the youth. These youth projects will therefore not only benefit the youth but the community at large. These youth will also help the community to grow providing a win-win scenario for all.
A truly caring government will do more; it would also create opportunities for deserving youths to be seconded to international companies for exposure and training in order to create opportunities for the country in the global village. These youth would ultimately attract direct foreign investment and would be our unpaid ambassadors in these countries. They would comeback with a wealth of experience that will benefit our country immensely. What a worthy investment into our future!
I like the minister of youth Mr. OLOPENG. He has so much energy and he really wants to leave a lasting legacy for the youth, but unfortunately he is working and building on a sandy foundation.
The youth policies he inherited and supports are not sustainable. He is on record saying that at the end of his term he will have created five youth millionaires. I do not know whether this is a good objective or just a lofty one that will not make any long-term difference to the lives of our youth. What is a millionaire? Does it mean someone with a million Pula in the bank, does it mean someone with property worth a million Pula, does it mean someone who has invested a million Pula in some business or does it mean someone who is creating wealth worth millions of Pula daily, monthly or yearly. What is a millionaire in our context or the minister’s context? Tenderpreneurs can easily make millions in a single tender, are they millionaires? Hopefully the minister is not going to create tenderpreneurs and call them entrepreneurs. I will leave this for you to contemplate and watch the space as the minister develops these five youth millionaires!
As I conclude, where are the youth who continue to drop out of the education system after secondary school, year on year? What do we have for these dropouts? Is there anything they can do other than ipelegeng or loiter in the streets? I believe they have talents that can be developed. What happens to the thousands of youth who graduate every year? Do we know where they are and what they are doing? A caring government who spends so much money on the youth should know and must have a plan for each one of these young people. The 20000 target project the ministry of education has recently embarked upon is based on the same old principles that have wasted millions and left the youth in the cold after training. There is need for a third leg for that program to stand. The business community is missing.
I know many young people who are eager to make a difference in our country but cannot find appropriate opportunities. Some even want to volunteer their services for free to gain experience but they cannot be given the opportunities they need.
A paradigm shift is therefore urgently required for our youth development to appropriately empower the youth. If there is no future without the youth; if there is no sustainable development without the youth, then we should stop playing lip service and do the necessary now.
Let us continue to pray for wisdom and guidance for posterity.
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IEC Disrespects Batswana: A Critical Analysis
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Incompetence or Disrespect?
One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.
Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.
Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:
While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.
To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.
The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.
Fuelling Change: The Evolving Dynamics of the Oil and Gas Industry
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth. Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
Brands are important
So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why? Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.
A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.
Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.
Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.
Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand. Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.
So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :
Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.
Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.
The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.
So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.
There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.
But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel. A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.
Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.
Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.