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Tenders have killed the innovative entrepreneur

The first annual job summit was a success. It was a success in a sense that it gave a platform to business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss ways of creating jobs. But all the brilliant suggestions from panellists and participants were nothing new. It was a talk we have all heard often.

In fact I have written before that people know what needs to be done in reviving the economy so it could accommodate the unemployed. Talking and doing are two different things, what we fail to achieve is to implement all the brilliant ideas.


But it was the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s remarks that really made me wonder if he really understands the true nature of the country’s problems. This country’s problems run deeper, as they have been long in the making. The vice president remarked that the government has done enough to facilitate for the private sector to create jobs. On the surface he is correct, but on deeper inspection, the government has not only failed the private sector but citizens who dream of better lives. I will explain.


It goes without saying that Batswana are no longer hopeful about their future prospects. The economy is still dependent on diamonds, government has put a freeze on hiring, and salary increments haven’t been inspiring, the lethargic relationship between the private media and government, the dysfunctional politics, unemployed graduates, water and power crisis and the ever rising cost of living.


Indeed, it would appear that the realization that Botswana is no longer the land of opportunity that it has long claimed to be. To be sure, Botswana has many opportunities that are yet to be explored and enjoyed by the majority of citizens. But it is the economic inequality that has left so many dejected. They wonder why there is no longer trickledown economics anymore. Despite their hardwork and contributions, they are not getting their fair slice of the pie.


The things that they are told to be grateful for, free education and free health, are equally failing them. They have to endure long queues in hospitals and clinics and only to find out that the doctor is not there or their medications is not in the inventory. The pride and joy of receiving a degree has been replaced by nervousness as they contemplate what to make of their lives.


Batswana have become fearful and distrustful of the government. They doubt the government’s commitment towards them, when they speak of the government they do so in hushed tones lest they get sidelined in sharing the pie. Whether this fear is justified or not, is neither here nor there. It’s not exactly as if the government itself inspires trust and renewed hope. In fact the government has allowed for this fear and distrust to continue unabated. But we need to talk about this.


We should be having a deep debate on the growing inequality that threatens to tear our society. Inequality of opportunity has become pervasive, so has corruption both in the private and public sector.  In terms of inequality, it’s like we have a two tier economy, for them and for us. The same could be said about the courts of law. We live in disparate worlds of economic freedom.


It hasn’t always been like this. Those who have seen the golden era of Botswana’s economy look back to those days with great fondness. That Botswana era had been exciting; it was the darling and envy of neighbouring countries. There was a powerful sense of belonging, people could actually see their lives improving for the better. They had hope and on equal measure they could pin those hopes in their children to be successful. But that era is gone. The Botswana of today has become a cash cow. Money seems to be the only thing that matters.

People who prized developing the country and improving the quality of life of every citizen are being sidelined; they have been replaced by the ones that are more ruthless in the individualistic pursuits. They are cutting deals and looking out for themselves. They are consumed with avarice.


The private sector cannot create jobs given the prevailing circumstances. Those who are affected mostly are the youth, as the vice president rightly pointed out. Tenders have killed the innovative entrepreneur, he has been replaced by the tenderpreneur who is looking out on fleecing the government.

After all one can instantly become rich through tenders, but that wealth accumulation does not trickle down to the majority of citizens. Needless to say, the business of tenders is not sustainable in the long run. But the greatest danger lies in the citizenry resigning to the fact the only way to make it is through tenders.

The proliferation of briefcase companies that get millions of pula through tenders, yet do little in terms of expanding to build sustainable companies has done little to create employment. It’s shocking when the government encourages such behaviour, even encouraging people to engage in these get rich quick schemes.


 Those with strong connections to the government and private businesses wield so much power. They are the ones that control the flow of capital, they disregard laws and ethics all in pursuit of personal gains. Thomas Piketty, the controversial French economist, argues that the disparity between economic growth and investment growth, is the manifestation of inequality. Basically, Piketty is saying capital begets capital, on the same though chain, the rich will continue getting richer while the poor suffer.


We should never allow inequality to be the new normal, it’s not something that we can view as being inevitable. The government should come out strong against corruption, this could help in instilling hope amongst the citizens. The pursuit of money should never make us forget that we should coexist together, and that means acting honourably not gainfully. We need to reawaken the Botswana were hope filled the air, when people genuinely believed that if they work hard enough they will make it in life.

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Business

Unleashing potential: Connectivity as a catalyst for economic and societal growth in Botswana

23rd April 2024

Imagine a young entrepreneur in the city of Gaborone with dreams of starting her own business. With access to high-speed internet, she can connect with suppliers, market her products online, and reach customers around the world, all from the comfort of her home.

Just a few years ago, this internet access was a luxury reserved for the privileged few. Today, however, thanks to the ambitious National Broadband Strategy launched in 2019, the digital landscape of Botswana is undergoing a dramatic transformation, reflecting the government’s commitment to providing stable and secure internet connectivity to businesses, citizens, and organisations.

A proactive approach to ensuring uninterrupted connectivity

The importance of reliable connectivity can’t be overstated. For instance, on 14 March 2024, four major undersea telecommunications cables, West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT–3, experienced simultaneous outages, with significant internet disruptions across the continent.

In this instance, Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ (Liquid) proactive investment in multiple undersea cables along both the east and west coasts of Africa showed the benefits of a robust and diversified network. Our redundant international backbone ensured traffic was rerouted, maintaining an uninterrupted service and keeping customers connected. This commitment to uninterrupted connectivity is mirrored in our initiatives such as the Gaborone Metro Ring.

Driving growth and promoting investment

The Gaborone Metro Ring is a telecommunications network powered by Liquid Botswana, which has turned the bustling capital city into a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Start-ups and established businesses alike are harnessing the power of high-speed internet to drive growth, create jobs, and open doors to investment.

Connectivity lies at the heart of Botswana’s digital transformation, creating economic growth and community development. The Gaborone Metro Ring, which spans key business hubs and high-density areas, provides internet access and empowers individuals and hundreds of businesses in the city, driving innovation, and fostering inclusivity. Covering Gaborone and Lobatse, it is providing the internet connectivity necessary to positively transform and grow the Botswana economy.

Fuelling entrepreneurship and job creation

One of the key benefits of enhanced connectivity is its ability to support advanced data, video, messaging, and voice services, paving the way for increased efficiency and productivity. Businesses, particularly start-ups and SMEs, can leverage high-speed internet to streamline operations, reach new markets, and drive growth. Moreover, reduced tariffs and exclusive offers within the metro fibre zone enable businesses to innovate and compete globally, fuelling entrepreneurship and job creation.

Empowering individuals and strengthening communities

In a country with 1.95 million internet users, representing an internet penetration rate of 73.5% of the total population, the benefits of connectivity extend far beyond Lobatse and Gaborone, reaching communities across the country. Improved access to information and services empowers individuals, strengthens communities, and drives social development. Moreover, connectivity plays a crucial role in bridging the digital divide, ensuring that no one is left behind in Botswana’s journey towards a digitally inclusive society.

As Botswana continues to embrace digital transformation, the role of connectivity will only become more critical. It is not just about connecting people, but about empowering them to realise their full potential, driving economic growth, and building a more inclusive society.

Internet is the backbone of a knowledge-based economy. From empowering entrepreneurs and startups and fuelling the digital economy, to improving education and healthcare, reliable and resilient connectivity is key. In addition, in the event of an emergency such as the recent multiple undersea cable failure, a diverse and stable option that ensures business continuity is essential. The Liquid-powered Gaborone Metro Ring, adding to the company’s 110,000km of fibre across the continent, is fuelling the transformative power of connectivity in Botswana.

 

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Business

LLR transforms from Company to Group reporting

9th April 2024

Botswana Stock Exchange listed diversified real estate company, Letlole La Rona Limited (“LLR” or “the Company” or “the Group”), posted its first set of group financial statements which comprise the Company and Group consolidated accounts, which show strong financial performance for the six months ended 31 December 2023, with improvements across all key metrics.

The Company commenced the financial year with the appointment of a Deputy Chairperson, Mr Mooketsi Maphane, in order to bolster its governance and enhance leadership continuity through the development of a Board and Executive Management Succession Plan.

At operational level, LLR increased its shareholding in Railpark Mall from 32.79% to 57.79% and proudly took over the management of this prime asset.

The CEO of LLR, Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng commented “During the period under review, our portfolio continued to perform strongly, with improvements across all key metrics as a result of our ongoing focus on portfolio growth and optimisation.

“We are pleased to report a successful first half of the 2024 financial year, where we managed to not only grow the portfolio through strategic acquisitions and value accretive refurbishments but also recycled capital through the disposal of Moedi House as well as the ongoing sale of section titles at Red Square Apartments. The acquisition of an additional 25% stake in JTTM Properties significantly uplifted the value of our investment portfolio to P2.0 billion at a Group level. Our investment portfolio was further differentiated by the quality of our tenant base, as demonstrated by above market occupancy levels of 99.15% and strong collections of above 100% for the period”.

The growth in contractual revenue of 9% from the prior year’s P48.0 million to the current year P52.2 million, increased income from Railpark Mall, coupled with high collection rates, has enabled the company to declare a distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit, which is in line with the prior year.

 

In line with its strategic pillars of ‘Streamlined and Expanded Botswana Portfolio’ as well as ‘Quality African Assets’, the Group continuously monitors the performance of its investments to ensure that they meet the targeted returns.

“The Group continues to explore yield accretive opportunities for balance sheet growth and funding options that can be deployed to finance that growth” further commented the CEO of LLR Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng.

Ms Mowaneng further thanked the Group’s stakeholders for their continued support and stated that they look forward to unlocking further value in the Group.

 

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Business

Botswana’s Electricity Generation Dips 26.4%

9th April 2024

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has reported a significant decrease in electricity generation for the fourth quarter of 2023, with output plummeting by 26.4%. This decline is primarily attributed to operational difficulties at the Morupule B power plant, as per the latest Botswana Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) released recently.

Local electricity production saw a drastic reduction, falling from 889,535 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 654,312 MWH in the period under review. This substantial decrease is largely due to the operational challenges at the Morupule B power plant. Consequently, the need for imported electricity surged by 35.6% (136,243 MWH) from 382,426 MWH in the third quarter to 518,669 MWH in the fourth quarter. This increase was necessitated by the need to compensate for the shortfall in locally generated electricity.

Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO) was the principal supplier of imported electricity, accounting for 43.1% of total electricity imports during the fourth quarter of 2023. Eskom followed with 21.8%, while the remaining 12.1, 10.3, 8.6, and 4.2% were sourced from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Nampower, and Cross-border electricity markets, respectively. Cross-border electricity markets involve the supply of electricity to towns and villages along the border from neighboring countries such as Namibia and Zambia.

Distributed electricity exhibited a decrease of 7.8% (98,980 MWH), dropping from 1,271,961 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 1,172,981 MWH in the review quarter.

Electricity generated locally contributed 55.8% to the electricity distributed during the fourth quarter of 2023, a decrease from the 74.5% contribution in the same quarter of the previous year. This signifies a decrease of 18.7 percentage points. The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of locally generated electricity to the distributed electricity fell by 14.2 percentage points, from 69.9% in the third quarter of 2023 to 55.8% in the fourth quarter. The Morupule A and B power stations accounted for 90.4% of the electricity generated during the fourth quarter of 2023, while Matshelagabedi and Orapa emergency power plants contributed the remaining 5.9 and 3.7% respectively.

The year-on-year analysis reveals some improvement in local electricity generation. The year-on-year perspective shows that the amount of distributed electricity increased by 8.2% (88,781 MWH), from 1,084,200 MWH in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 1,172,981 MWH in the current quarter. The trend of the Index of Electricity Generation from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 indicates an improvement in local electricity generation, despite fluctuations.

The year-on-year analysis also reveals a downward trend in the physical volume of imported electricity. The trend in the physical volume of imported electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 shows a downward trend, indicating the country’s continued effort to generate adequate electricity to meet domestic demand, has led to the decreased reliance on electricity imports.

In response to the need to increase local generation and reduce power imports, the government has initiated a new National Energy Policy. This policy is aimed at guiding the management and development of Botswana’s energy sector and encouraging investment in new and renewable energy. In the policy document, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi stated that the policy aims to transform Botswana from being a net energy importer to a self-sufficient nation with surplus energy for export into the region. Moagi expressed confidence that Botswana has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in electric power supply, given the country’s readily available energy resources such as coal and renewable sources.

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