Air Botswana General Manager, Ben Dahwa has highlighted the need for the national airline to refleet in the next three years to boost efficiency and improve on the service offered.
Informing the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises, Dahwa said refleeting was part of the airline’s five year turnaround strategy.
“We want seven aircrafts to be procured in a period of three years so that by the end of 2018, we will be having them,” Ben Dahwa informed the committee.
The refleeting exercise is expected to improve efficiency and enhance the airline’s performance, which has been declining over the years and with clients losing confidence in the airline. The new aircrafts are expected provide business class, a service that the current fleet does not offer.
“We are still in negotiations with the relevant stakeholders regarding the re-fleeting. We have submitted proposals to the shareholders and the Ministry of Transport and Communications to source funding,” said Dahwa.
Dahwa added that they have given shareholders two options, which consist of re-capitalisation and another one that will allow shareholders to underwrite a loan facility. However as AB, they have given priority to the recapitalisation route as informed by their strategy, which benchmarked within the region from countries that have the same economy as Botswana.
Dahwa also said that, as part of their marketing strategy, they will need backing from the shareholders to reorganize the organization for effective and maximum performance which under normal circumstances cost a lot of money to put together.
The GM also highlighted that they need to acclimatize to the latest technology and upgrade their systems of operations, as most of their machines are manual, which contributes to inefficiency.
“Our market strategy was guided by the results of the study carried out by the consultants whom we engaged last year,” he said. Additionally, the GM said they will take advantage of plans that are underway to transform the Sir Seretse
Khama International Airport into a regional hub, with particular focus on increasing their cargo business.
“We are not purely focusing on passengers, we have identified cargo as one area of focus. Currently, we are leasing cargo aircraft twice a week to Johannesburg,” he said.
Last year, the Ministry engaged ICF Consultants to assist in developing a turnaround strategy for Air Botswana.
The strategy is expected to focus on the airline’s operations which include rationalisation of the route network and schedule, review of internal processes and procedures, use of technology to enhance delivery, fleet upgrade and equipment renewal.
Dahwa said it was important for Air Botswana to be at par with other airlines in the region as they are competing for the same customers. Air Botswana currently has seven (7) aircrafts of which only four are serviceable while the other three demand regular maintenance. But the state of the aircrafts pathetic.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.