Botswana’s government is committed to creating jobs particularly through the private sector, Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi told the participants of the first annual Job Summit, adding that if sufficient jobs are not created, the blame should lay with the private sector.
“The private sector should be able to create decent jobs, we have enabled a conducive environment for that.” At the same time, Masisi, who also is mandated with job creation strategies, said that the government does not intend on creating jobs in the government, instead the private sector should create more jobs.
He acknowledged that there are still challenges such as overcoming bureaucracy but the government is committed to removing barriers that hinder the participation of the private sector.
The vice president called on the private sector to be more innovative in their approach instead of franchising existing businesses.
“Franchising leads to dependency syndrome,” he warned, asserting that job creation is made even more possible by home grown businesses that could train their employees. He reasoned that “skilled manpower creates jobs.” He decried that the youth are mostly affected by unemployment, and if the situation continues, the rate of unemployment will keep on increasing.
Masisi also shed light on the intended objectives of the envisaged Economic Stimulus Package. He said that the package will have impact everywhere, “Nobody will be left out” he emphasised. Furthermore, the success of the stimulus package will be measured on the number of jobs created in each sector as well as the number of new businesses created per sector. So far the identified sectors are construction, tourism development, manufacturing and agriculture.
The upbeat message from the vice president did not cease other panellists from assessing the country’s challenges and prospects. Bogolo Kenewendo, an economist with the Ministry of Trade in Ghana, pointed to the slow economic growth as a hindrance to job creation.
Kenewendo advised the government to shift from being an export dependent economy to a non-export economy. She also took issue with the lack of comprehensive data, especially that of labour market force, before dropping a bombshell that Botswana’s unemployment rate could be hovering around 40%, “using the narrow definition of unemployment.”
The official unemployment rate is somewhere around 20%. On the supply side of things, Kenewendo had this to say, “Is there a mismatch? Are our people skilled or educated?” This comes against the backdrop of employers complaining about the competence of some job seekers.
Dr Joel Sentsho, Trade Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that job creation will flourish in a diversified economy. While admitting that Botswana’s economy is not diversified, he was upbeat about future prospects.
“Institutions are drivers of Botswana’s industrial development agenda,” Sentsho said, explaining that development of high priority and high impact sectors were key to job creation.
Moreover, he added that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is committed to ensuring that the industrial development policy, trade policy and special economic zones are a success that will result in job creation. He cited the proposed leather park in Lobatse as an example of economic diversification and job creation, “When completed, the project will create more than a thousand jobs.”
Dr Sentsho implored the government not to throw money at unemployment but rather come up with strategies to create jobs, “Industrial development, economic diversification and job creation require a combination of both the brain and resources,” he advised.
Professor Brothers Malema, an associate professor of Economics at the University of Botswana, confirmed that Botswana’s economy has been experiencing jobless growth.
“The economy is growing but the job creation is minimal,” he said. Malema attributed this to nature of the capital intensive production of mining which drives the economy, adding that labour suffers as a result.
“Capital intensity of mining is well documented, prospects for jobless growth will continue unabated,” he emphasised. To effectively deal with the increasing unemployment rate, we need to deal with underlying problems, he argued.
“Botswana was one of the fastest growing economies but house income disparity has been rapidly increasing over the years.” He said given the growing income inequality, he wonders if allocative efficiency is in the best interest of society or just a few.
The panellists called for accountable and transparent government institutions, greater collaboration between private sector and government in job creation as well as increased productivity in the private sector and civil service. Other key recommendations were tackling corruption, better project management and sound investments with tangible returns, improving the ease of doing business in Botswana.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.