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A Formidable New Landmark For Gaborone In The Horizon


I love our city but let’s face it, when it comes to aesthetics, ambiance, functionality and quality of life, Gaborone falls short of the mark. As a national focal point of administration and commerce the city has not been appropriately planned to promote robust economic development required to compete in present day’s fierce global economic contest. Rapid urbanisation continues to put pressure on infrastructure that was designed to accommodate a smaller population.

Gaborone has suffered the growing pains of a developing city but the city lacks character, poise and the sophistication found in the neighbouring capital cities of Pretoria, Harare, Lusaka and Windhoek. This scenario is exacerbated by the soaring cost of living and crime statistics, questionable school rankings, a diminished career and occupational outlook and persistent power and water cuts.

Proponents of Space Management state that space affects ones mood, well-being and productivity. Could Gaborone’s uninspiring social and economic spaces and infrastructure networks that do not adequately cater for the wellbeing of citizens and the aspirations of investors be the reason the country’s Gross National Happiness index and productivity levels are so low?

The latest World Happiness Report ranks Botswana 146th happiest nation out of 156 countries in the world. The country is number 35 out of 44 countries ranked in Africa. On productivity, the country is ranked 74th out of 144 economies by The Global Competitiveness Index of 2014 -2015.

Gaborone however is a resilient city. With a colourful rags to riches history, the city is fighting back to reclaim its past glory and position itself for the next phase of development towards the emerging knowledge-economy. Once the seat of government for one of the poorest countries in the world – with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s – the city has been in the driving seat of efforts that have seen Botswana transform itself into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, now boasting a GDP purchasing power parity) per capita of about $16,400 per year as of 2013. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a modest standard of living and the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the country’s strategies to address challenges of competitiveness, attract foreign direct investment, improve productivity, stimulate economic growth and create jobs, is to develop an innovation ecosystem that will move the country from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one. The creation of spaces that are conducive for business and use technology and communication to create more efficient agglomerations in terms of competitiveness, innovation, environment, energy, utilities, governance, and delivery of services to the citizen is embodied in Science and Technology Parks.

Science and Technology Parks are sources of entrepreneurship, talent, and economic competitiveness, and are key elements of the infrastructure supporting the growth of today's global knowledge economy. By providing a location in which government, research institutions and private companies cooperate and collaborate, Science and Technology Parks create environments that foster collaboration and innovation. They enhance development, skills transfer, commercialization of technology and advance knowledge.

Construction of Botswana’s first Science and Technology Park, Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park is set to change Gaborone’s skyline and boost the city’s rankings as a conducive business environment and desirable place to live. Construction of the park commenced on 11st August, 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in June, 2016 in line to be commissioned as part of the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations on 30th September, 2016. The parks construction is a major national project that represents a significant 1 Billion Pula investment in the city’s infrastructure development.

The Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park is strategically located on a 57 hectare site, near the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and adjacent to the Diamond Technology Park in Gaborone’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development node of Block 8 area. The park is an ideal location for technology-driven and knowledge-intensive businesses to establish themselves, develop and compete in regional and global markets.

The focal point of the Hub is to provide state-of-the-art buildings and facilities to attract domestic, regional and global companies to locate business as well as research and development activities within the park, and promote technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship. When the facilities in the park are fully developed, the Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park will consist of world class services including high quality road infrastructure, street lighting, telecommunications infrastructure with high capacity international connectivity and secured power and water, as well as professional business and technology transfer services.  

Its central icon buildings are a world class, iconic masterpiece of architecture designed by Shop Architecture, New York whose designs won the 2013 Auto Desk Design Awards. The building is regarded as one of Africa’s pioneering ‘green’ structures. According to the World Green Building Council, “Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refer to a structure and using process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.” This requires close cooperation of the design team, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.  

The Park offers prime real estate products and services. With 24,000m2 of commercial development space, the icon buildings will accommodate investors and tenants within sectors of Biotechnology, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Energy and Environment, and Mining Technology sectors, as well as an Entrepreneurship Development Centre commonly known as an Incubation Centre.  The buildings offer flexible rental office and laboratory spaces ranging from 50m2 1000m2 for rent.

The central icon building entails a multi-use development with shared amenities within a garden Hub concept and an International amphitheater meant to host significant international events. The building also provides modern high quality premises that are easily adaptable with plug and play shared facilities such as meeting, board and training rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and wellness centers, postal services, banking and ATM services, and many other complementary services that provide work, leave and play type of environment within the Science and Technology Park.

Included in the mix is unfurnished standard office space with electricity and data connections as well as services such as common area cleaning, maintenance, security, and administration within a secure business and networking environment.

For businesses that would like to put up their own buildings, the Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park offers land for long term lease or co-development with an additional 36 hectares for light industrial purposes.  The park has 40 plots of varying sizes available for lease. The plot sizes range from 3000 – 16000m2 which can be consolidated or subdivided and the company provides plot development guidelines.  

Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Alan Boshwaen says, “In addition to developing superior, world class science and technology park buildings, Botswana Innovation Hub is involved in networking, advocacy and capacity building activities that support innovation.”  Boshwaen is confident that Gaborone’s new landmark is set to change the city’s ambiance and the dynamics and business culture by offering a unique platform for scientific, technological and indigenous knowledge-based innovation.

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Debswana-Botswana Oil P8 billion fuel partnership to create 100 jobs

18th May 2022
Head-of-Stakeholder-Relations

The partnership between Debswana and Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) which was announced a fortnight ago will create under 100 direct jobs, and scores of job opportunities for citizens in the value chain activities.

In a major milestone, Debswana and BOL jointly announced that the fuel supply to Debswana, which was in the past serviced by foreign companies, will now be reserved for citizen companies. The total value of the project is P8 billion, spanning a period of five years.

“About 88 direct jobs will be created through the partnership. These include some jobs which will be transferred from the current supplier to the new partnership,” Matida Mmipi, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Botswana Oil, told BusinessPost.

“We believe this partnership will become a blueprint for other citizen initiatives, even in other sectors of the economy. Furthermore, this partnership has succeeded in unlocking opportunities that never existed for ordinary citizens who aspire to grow and do business with big companies like Debswana.”

Mmipi said through this partnership, BOL and Debswana intend to impact citizen owned companies in the fuel supply value chain that include transportation, supply, facilities maintenance, engineering, customs clearance, trucks stops and its support activities such as workshop / maintenance, tyre services, truck wash bays among others.

“The number of companies to be on-boarded will be determined by the economics at the time of engagement,” she said. BOL will play a facilitatory role of handholding and assisting emerging citizen-owned fuel supply and fuel transportation companies to supply Debswana’s Jwaneng and Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa (OLDM) mines with diesel and petrol for their operations.

“BOL expects to increase citizen companies’ market share in the fuel supply and transportation industries, which have over the years been dominated by foreign-owned suppliers. Consequently, the agreement will also ensure security of supply for Debswana operations, which are a mainstay of the Botswana economy,” Mmipi said.

“Furthermore, BOL will, under this agreement, transfer skills to citizen suppliers and transporters during the contract period and ensure delivery of competent and skilled citizen suppliers and transport companies upon completion of the agreement.”

Mmipi said the capacitating by BOL is limited to providing citizen companies oil industry technical capability and capacity to deliver on the requirements of the contract, when asked on helping citizen companies to access funding.

“BOL’s mandate does not include financing citizen empowerment initiatives. Securing funding will remain the responsibility of the beneficiaries. This could be through government financing entities including CEDA or through commercial banks. Further to this, there are financial institutions that have already signed up to support the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme (CEEP),” Mmipi indicated.

While BOL is established by government as company limited by guarantee, it will not benefit financially from the partnership with Debswana, as citizen empowerment in the petroleum value chain is core to BOL’s mandate.

“BOL does not pursue citizen facilitation for financial benefit, but rather we engage in citizen facilitation as a social aspect of our mandate. Citizen facilitation comes at a cost, but it is the right thing to do for the country to develop the oil and gas industry,” she said.

Mmipi said supplying fuel to Debswana comes with commercial benefits such as supply margins. These have traditionally been made outside the country when supply was done by multi-nationals for a period spanning over 50 years. With BOL anchoring supply for Debswana, this benefit will accrue locally, and BOL will be able to pay taxes and dividends to the shareholders in Botswana.

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VAT in Africa Guide 2022 – Africa re-emerging

18th May 2022

PwC Africa has presented the eighth edition of the VAT in Africa Guide – Africa re-emerging. This backdrop of renewal informs on the re-emergence of African economies and societies which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this edition, which has been compiled by PwC Africa’s indirect tax experts, covers a total of 41 African countries. It is geared towards sharing insight with our clients based on the constantly changing tax environments that can have a significant impact on business operations.

Within Africa, governments continue to focus on expanding the tax net by improving revenue collection through efficient compliance systems and procedures. PwC Africa has observed that revenue authorities also continue to take a keen interest in indirect taxes as part of revenue mobilisation initiatives.

Maturing VAT system and upskilling SARS 

“In South Africa, VAT is becoming more relevant as a revenue source for the government,” says Matthew Besanko, PwC South Africa’s Indirect Tax Leader. “Strides have been made to upskill South African Revenue Service (SARS) staff and identify VAT revenue leakages, particularly in respect of foreign suppliers of electronic services to people and businesses in South Africa.”

Broadening the tax base and digital economy

In the past year, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe saw updates to their VAT legislation, or introduced specific legislation targeting electronically supplied services (ESS), which is in line with the global trend of attempting to tax the digital economy. “The expectation is that Botswana will also introduce VAT legislation in due course, while the National Treasury in South Africa has also made mention of revising the rules to account for further developments in the digital economy,” Besanko says.

South Africa’s National Treasury has also drafted legislation with the intention to introduce a reverse charge on gold, which is expected to come into effect later in 2022. While in Zimbabwe, revenue authorities have introduced a tax on the export of raw medicinal cannabis ranging between 10% and 20%, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.

ESG and carbon tax 

Key strides have also been made within the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space. “ESG leadership, strategising and reporting is essential now for organisations that wish to flourish and remain relevant,” Kabochi says. He adds that companies need to consider how ESG and tax intersect, since tax is a significant value driver when businesses need to deliver on their ESG goals.

In South Africa, a carbon tax regime, which is being implemented in three phases, has been adopted. The second phase was scheduled to start in January 2023, however phase one was extended by three years until 31 December 2025.

Until then, taxpayers will enjoy substantial tax-free allowances which reduce their carbon tax liability. At the beginning of 2022, the South African government increased the carbon tax rate to R144 (about US$9), which is expected to increase annually to enable South Africa to uphold its COP26 commitments.

With effect from 1 January 2023, carbon tax payers in South Africa will also be required to submit carbon budgets and adhere to the provisions of the carbon budgeting system which will be governed by the Climate Change Bill. Where set carbon budgets are exceeded, the government plans to impose penalties. “At PwC, we are continuously focused on our renewed global strategy, ” The New Equation,” Kabochi says. “Through this strategy, a key focus area for PwC Africa is to support clients in adding value to their ESG ambitions and building trust through sustained outcomes.”

The New Equation is also an acknowledgement of the fundamental changes in the business environment in which PwC’s clients and other stakeholders operate. PwC continues to reinvent and adapt to these changes as a community of problem solvers, combining knowledge and human-led technology to deliver quality services and value.

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Economists project lower economic growth for Botswana

18th May 2022
CBD

Local and international economists have lowered their projections on Botswana’s economic growth for 2022 and 2023, saying the country is highly likely to fail to maintain high growth rate recorded in 2021 hence will not reach initial forecasts.

Economists this week lowered 2022 forecasts for Botswana’s economic growth rate, from the initial 5.3% to 4.8% and added that in 2023 growth could further decline to 4.0%. The lower projections come on the backdrop of an annual economic growth that recovered sharply in 2021 with figures showing that year-on-year real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased to 11.4%, up from a contraction of 8.7% in 2020.

Economists from the local research entity, E-consult, this week stated that the 2021 double digit growth that exceeded projections made at the time of the 2022 budget may be short lived due to other developments taking place in the global economy. E-consult Economist Sethunya Kegakgametse stated that the war in Ukraine has worsened supply problems in the global economy and added that before the war, macroeconomic indicators were seen as improving and returning to pre-COVID levels.

According to the economist the global economy was projected to improve in 2022 and 2023. Recent figures show that global growth projections have been revised downwards from the initial forecast of 4.9% in 2022 with the World Bank’s new estimate for global growth in 2022 at 3.2%.

The statistics also shows that International Monetary Fund revised their growth projections for 2022 and 2023 down by 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, falling to 3.6% for both years. “The outbreak of war has severely dampened the global recovery that was under way following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the economist.

She stated that despite Botswana being geographically removed from the conflict, the country has not and will not be exempt from the disruptions in the global economy. “The disruptions to global supply chains resulting from the war will have a negative effect on both Botswana’s growth and trade activities.

The economic sanctions against diamonds from Russia will add uncertainty to the market which will have knock on effects to Botswana’s growth, exports, and government revenues,” said the economists who added that the disruptions are driving prices up and result with very high inflation in the local economy.

Kegakgametse projected that in an attempt to limit inflation Bank of Botswana will be forced to raise interest rate “Should the sharp increase in both global and local inflation persist, Bank of Botswana much like other central banks around the world will be forced to raise interest rates in a bid to control rising prices. This would mean an end to the expansionary monetary policy stance that had been adopted post COVID-19 to aid economic growth,” she said.

In the latest projections, the UK based economic research entity Fitch Solutions lowered 2022 real GDP growth forecast for Botswana from 5.3% to 4.8% “In 2023, we see economic growth rate decelerating to 4.0%,” said Fitch Solutions economists who also noted that the 2022 and 2023 economic growth projections may come out lower than the current forecasts, as it is possible that new vaccine-resistant virus variants may be identified, which could result in the re-implementation of restrictions. “In such circumstances, we cannot rule out that Botswana’s economy may post weaker growth than our baseline scenario currently assumes,” said the economists.

According to the projections, Fitch Solution stated that there is limited scope for Botswana government to increase diamond production and exports, following the economic sanctions imposed on Russian diamond mining companies operating in Botswana. The research entity added that De Beers is unlikely to scale up diamond output from Botswana in order to prop up diamond prices.

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