The 2015 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum is being held in Libreville, Gabon, this week. The forum will provide an opportunity to celebrate the recent reauthorization of AGOA, take stock of AGOA’s successes over the last 15 years and launch a dialogue on the future of U.S.-Africa trade.
Senior officials from the U.S. are in Gabon to meet with officials from 39 AGOA member countries, including Botswana, as well as business leaders, entrepreneurs, civil society members, and the private sector to discuss trade and investment.
Originally enacted in 2000, AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement in Africa. AGOA offers unilateral tariff free access to the U.S. market for Botswana. AGOA makes it easier for Batswana businesses to sell their products in America while helping open markets in this country to American businesses.
AGOA also encourages economic and governance reform. New AGOA legislation calls for promoting the role of women in social and economic development. At this week’s forum, the African Women Entrepreneurship Program will conduct workshops on preparing female African entrepreneurs to enter the regional and global procurement supply chains.
The reauthorization and 10-year extension of AGOA underscores the importance of growing trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa through measures designed to make the agreement more responsive to unique circumstances in each country. Over half of all imports from eligible African countries enter the U.S. duty free.
Botswana’s companies directly benefit from AGOA. Botswana’s exports under AGOA reached $9.5 million in 2014 and included textiles, leather, baskets, and diamond products. Botswana’s exports under AGOA grew by 50 percent in 2014. But we can do even better.
Botswana is blessed and challenged by geography. Botswana has a choice to either be land-locked or land-connected depending on customs procedures and regional transportation infrastructure. I commend the Government of Botswana for its progress on customs reform over the last year.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Trade Hub is proud to have assisted with the establishment of a National Single Window that makes trade faster, cheaper, and more efficient. While there has been much progress, high shipping costs continue to impede Botswana’s regional competitiveness.
To export a container from Botswana through the Port of Durban it costs $3,145 and takes 27 days, according to the World Bank. Implementing the National Single Window and streamlining customs procedures could leverage Botswana’s strategic position as a gateway and business hub for Southern Africa.
The U.S. Government is looking to foster an enabling environment to build export capacity and private sector-led growth in Botswana. We provide resources to individual companies through the Exporter Toolkit, available online at http://agoa.info/. The toolkit includes resources on exporter readiness, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and export marketing. I urge Batswana entrepreneurs to take advantage of these resources and export to the U.S. Together we can strengthen our commercial ties to the betterment of both our great nations.
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.