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Mismatch in economic growth and job creation

The Botswana National Human Development Report 2014 draft report of March 2015 submitted to the United Nations Development Programme Botswana Office (UNDP) by the University of Botswana academics indicates that the current challenge for Botswana’s economy has been and is still about finding appropriate policies and strategies to sustain the economic growth beyond the diamond era.
 
The report suggests that country therefore needs to work with development partners to find the appropriate economic policies and strategies to sustain the levels of growth. While economic growth is not sufficient to achieve economic development, it is nonetheless a necessary requirement for the same.

“While Botswana has been successful in maintaining a robust macroeconomic environment albeit with lower growth than in the previous period, its weakest major link has been the lack of connection between the economic growth and employment creation,” reads the report.

According to the report, this has to do with the fact that the sector that contributes significantly to growth is highly capital intensive and contributes less than 5 percent to total employment.

The report notes that the largest sector in terms of employment is agriculture which employs about 30 percent of total labour. And yet the agricultural sector in Botswana is dominated by subsistence farming and pays the lowest in terms of average wages. The sector also has problems of low productivity.

The second largest employment is in the Wholesale and Retail Trade Industry with 14 percent contribution to total employment. Mining and Quarrying was in 2005/06 employing 3 percent of the labour force even though it has over years been contributing the most in terms of GDP share.

There is therefore need to shift employment from the low productivity low pay subsistence agriculture to other high productivity high pay sectors. This is in addition to creating employment to the currently unemployed who were estimated at 19.8 percent in 2013.

“With the inadequate link between growth and employment growth the result has been a high unemployment rate that has been around 20 percent.

The unemployment is higher than most comparable countries that are classified as upper middle income countries. It is however lower than some comparable countries in the region in particular South Africa and Namibia which recorded 24 percent and 27 percent unemployment rates in the current period respectively.”   

In addition the UNDP report states that Botswana’s unemployment is however at quite a level that is worrisome for policy makers and requires urgent attention. With a population of about two million people, unemployment of about 180 thousand people reflects quite a big challenge. Added to these are those discouraged who may have stopped looking for a job due to unavailability of new jobs and also those who are underemployed who were estimated at 5 percent in the 2005/06 Labour Force Survey.

“The unemployment in Botswana is distributed unequally amongst different social groups. It is generally highest for youth and for women and for urban villages and rural areas than for cities/towns and for those with no training. The Botswana Core Welfare Indicators Survey (BCWIS) results estimate total unemployment of 13.1 percent, 23.4 percent and 16.2 percent for cities/towns, urban villages and rural areas respectively.”  

From the same data, the report says women were facing an unemployment rate of 21.4 percent in 2009/10 and that of males was 14.6 percent. In 2013 estimates from the Botswana HIV/AIDS Impact Survey women unemployment was estimated at 22.3 percent compared to men of 17.8 percent, a trend that is similar in all estimates from all the surveys.  

“Unemployment is generally highest for the youth with those at age 15-19 facing an unemployment rate of 41.4 percent and females in that age group facing unemployment rate of 50.5 percent. Unemployment generally declines with increases in age.  The youth are likely to be highly unemployed in an economy not generating many new jobs given that they do not have the required on the job experience and most of them have no training beyond formal school.”

“This may also be a reflection that the education is not producing graduates with the required skills especially vocational type of education. Employment creation to absorb these youth and also make the youth employable from an appropriate training are key challenges to the current Botswana economy.

This is an area that requires efforts in many forms from development partners. Despite the country being classified as upper middle income, this challenge seems to be one that is elusive in terms of solutions and clearly requires appropriate policies and programmes that can be developed by government and other stakeholders with the assistance of development partners.”

BOTSWANA ECONOMY AT GLANCE

Meanwhile the UNDP draft report notes that Botswana’s economy has also undergone structural change from an economy that was dominated by agriculture which made 43 percent of output in 1966 to one that was to later be dominated by mining.

From the 1980 to the early period of the 2000 decade mining was making more than 40 percent of GDP. Figures 1.2 and 1.3 summarise sectorial share of GDP for 2005 and 2012. Mining was contributing the largest share at 43 percent of GDP and agriculture the smallest share with about 2 percent share. In 2012 mining was now contributing a relatively smaller share to GDP at 20 percent. Agriculture was still among the lowest contributors to GDP making 2.7 percent of 2012 GDP.

The figures show some degree of diversification from mining to the other sectors particularly those in the services sector. Mining however still dominates in terms of contribution to GDP indicating that there is still need to intensify efforts towards economic diversification away from mining particularly diamond mining. This is important given the fact that diamond production in Botswana is highly capital intensive and therefore generates less employment creation.

Modest employment of about 3,000 have however been created from current efforts to further process diamond in the in terms of further cutting and polishing. This is however still not adequate to deal with the current employment challenges especially among the youth.

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The  Bulb World CEO selected for Africa’s prestigious award

22nd July 2021

The Bulb World Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and entrepreneur, Ketshephaone Jacob has been selected as a 2021 Top 50 Africa’s Business Hero.

Jacob was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants – many of whom are highly-skilled and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Africa’s Business Hero, sponsored by technology entrepreneur, Jack Ma, aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

The initiative is as inclusive as possible and applications were open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages who operate businesses formally registered and headquartered in an African country, and that have a 3 year-track record.

Every year, finalists are selected to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition and participate in a TV Show that will be broadcast online and across the continent.

The finalists will compete for a share of US $1.5 million in grant money.

The Bulb World, is home grown LED light manufacturing company, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017.

The Bulb World operate from the Special Economic Zone of Selibe Phikwe. Early this year, The BulB World announced its expansion to South Africa, setting in motion its ambitious Africa expansion plan.

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Mining production down 12 % IN Q1 2021

14th July 2021

During the first quarter of 2021, production in Botswana’s economic nucleus- the mining sector contracted by 12 percent. This is according to Mining Production Index released by Statistics Botswana this week.

The country’s central data body revealed that Index of Mining production stood at 74.4 during the first quarter of 2021, showing a negative year on-year growth of 12.0 percent, from 84.6 registered during the first quarter of 2020.

The main contributor to the decline in mining production came from the Diamonds sector, which contributed negative 11.7 percentage points. Soda Ash was the only positive contributor in the mining production, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point. However Soda Ash’s contribution was insignificant to offset the negative contribution made by Diamonds.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis by Statistics Botswana experts shows an increase of 16.3 percent from the index of 64.0 during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 74.4 observed during the period under review.

Diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The decrease was as a result of planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to Covid-19 protocols restrictions.

Botswana’s diamond sector is underpinned by Debswana, the country’s flagship rough producer- a 50-50 joint venture between government and global mining giant De Beers Group. The other producer is Canadian based Lucara Diamond Corp through its wholly owned Karowe Mine which is a relatively small but significant production that has made a name for itself worldwide with rare diamond recoveries of unprecedented carat size.

On the other hand, quarter-on quarter analysis shows that production has improved, registering a positive growth of 17.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter – 2020 Q4.

Though production was significantly lower in the first quarter, the two producers ended Q2 with rare diamond recoveries. Debswana early last month found the world’s third largest gem diamond – weighing 1098 carat at Jwaneng Mine, its flagship gem quality diamonds producer, also regarded the world’s richest diamond mine.

A week later Lucara  announced its second biggest recovery, the 1174 carat clivage near-gem dug from its Karowe Mine. The diamond is the world third in carat size after the plus-3000 carat Cullinan found in South Africa back in 1905 and the 1758 carat Sewelo unearthed at its Karowe mine in 2019. Debswana and Lucara are investing billions of pulas in underground mining projects to extend the life of its mines, Jwaneng & Karowe respectively.

In terms of Gold which is produced at Mupani mine near Botswana’s second city of Francistown output decreased by 17.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter. The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.

Soda Ash production increased by 11.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In terms of quarter-on-quarter Soda Ash production also showed an increase, picking up by 2.1 percent during the period under review. The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.

Salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered a decrease of 32.9 percent during the period under review. Both salt and Sodash are produced by partly government owned Botswana Ash (BotsAsh) operating from Sowa town near Makgadikgadi pans.

Coal production decreased by 11.2 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station following the remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review.

Although production fell, Statistics Botswana says there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production increased by 20.4 percent compared to the preceding quarter.

Botswana’s flagship coal producer is Morupule Coal Mine; a wholly state owned mining company located in Palapye producing primarily for Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s power generation plants Morupule A & B.

The other coal producer is Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which operates a 390 MT Coal Resource mine in Masama near Media in the southwestern edge of the Mmamabula Coalfields.

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Gov’t awards mining licence for Gantsi Copper Mine

14th July 2021
Moagi

Department of Mines in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has awarded mining licence to Tshukudu Metals-a subsidiary of Aussie firm Sandfire Resources ,giving the company a green light to start piecing the ground at its Motheo Copper Project near Gantsi.

Lefoko Moagi, minister in charge of mineral resources in Botswana confirmed to weekendpost on Tuesday. Minister Moagi revealed that “the licence has been approved , but Sandfire Resources as a listed company will report to its shareholders and investors then make an official public statement” he said.

Based on a forecast copper price of US$3.16/lb (reflecting current long-term consensus pricing) the Base Case 3.2Mtpa – Ghantsi copper project is forecast to generate US$664 million (over P7 billion) in pre-tax free cash-flow and US$987 million (over P10 billion) in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation), at a forecast all-in sustaining cost of US$1.76/lb over its first 10 years of operations.

In December 2020, the Board of Sandfire Resources approved the commercial development of the Motheo Copper Mine located in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana, marking a key step in its transformation into a global, diversified, and sustainable mining company.

Tshukudu Metals Botswana (Pty) Limited (Tshukudu) a 100% owned subsidiary will be the owner and operator of the Motheo Copper Mine which is scheduled to produce up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate over a 12 year mine life.TMB is targeting development of its Motheo Copper Mine in 2021 and 2022, with its first production in 2023.

GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING UP 15 % STAKE ON OFFER

Beginning of this year presentations were made to the Department of Mines as part of the Mining Licence approval process and to the Ghanzi Regional Council, additional information was requested by Department of Mines in April and was duly supplied by the company.

As part of the Mining Licence approval process, the Government of Botswana has a right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in all mining projects locally. Quizzed on whether government through Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) would be taking up stake in the project Minister Moagi said, “No consideration is being made on that regard”.

“Government is not considering taking up a stake in the Ghantsi Copper Mine project, every opportunity is assessed on all risks, but Government makes money all the while from leases, taxes and royalties, remember if you take stake you are liable for liabilities of the project as well,” Moagi said.

MINING CONTRACT

Last month Sandfire announced that it has awarded over P5 billion worth mining contract to African Mining Services (AMS), a subsidiary of Perenti, to deliver the open cast operation.

The contract, which has an estimated value of US$496 million (over 5 billion), is the largest single operational contract for the new Motheo Project covering a period of 7 years and 3 months, with provision for a one-year extension.

The contract according to Sandfire Resources was awarded following a competitive 3-stage tender process which saw a number of key factors taken into consideration when selecting the preferred contractor.

These included Citizen Economic Empowerment, safety culture, equipment suitability and availability, commercial terms and identified improvement opportunities. Under the terms of the contract, AMS has agreed to form a 70:30 Joint Venture with a suitable local Botswana partner or partners.

The JV is expected to be finalized ahead of commencement of mining in early 2022. African Mining Services has been operating in Africa for over 30 years. AMS’ parent company, ASX listed diversified mining services group Perenti, already has a presence in Botswana through Barminco, their underground mining division, at the large-scale Khoemacau Copper Mine located 200km north-east of Motheo.

Last month Sandfire executives said the award of the open pit mining contract represents another key milestone in advancing the Motheo Project towards production, with all components of the contract in line with the key parameters outlined in the December 2020 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).

The company said full-scale construction of the US$279 million (over P 3 billion ) mine development is expected to commence immediately upon receipt of the Mining Licence, with mining scheduled to commence in early 2022 ahead of first production in early 2023. This week Sandfire Resources advertised over 10 positions in calling on applications from geologists, mining engineers and geotechnical engineers.

The Motheo mine has an initial mine life of 12.5 years based on production from the T3 pit. The initial development is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 600 direct full-time jobs during operations, with at least 95% of the total mine workforce expected to be made of up of Botswana citizens.

Later in the week Sandfire Resources announced in the company website that it has received the licence. Sandfire’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Karl Simich, said the award of the Mining Licence represented a major milestone that would see a significant increase in construction and development activities on site.

“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo, with our construction crews expected to mobilise to site over the next few days. I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their support throughout the approvals process, which will see Motheo come on-stream in 2023 as one of very few new copper mines commencing production globally.”

Simich said the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 600 full-time jobs during operations, and represents the foundation for Sandfire’s long-term growth plans in Botswana.

“Our vision is that Motheo will form the centre of a new, long-life copper production hub in in the central portion of the world-class Kalahari Copper Belt, where we hold an extensive ground-holding spanning Botswana and Namibia,” he said.

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