All things being equal, United Refineries Botswana (URB) is expected to start edible oil production from its Francistown refinery plant mid next month, a senior official with the company announced Thursday.
Mmoloki Tibe, the URB Managing Director made the announcement in a presentation shared with the Assistant Trade and Industry Minister Sadique Kebonang on the company’s business model and progress.
According to Tibe, the business model and progress shared with the Kebonang and some officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry are intended at realizing the full business mock-up for URB.
Once fully commissioned, Tibe said the expectation is that the refinery will be producing at least 70tonnes of cooking oil per day. This will help in the reduction of the import bill when it comes to cooking oil.
Currently, Botswana consumes in excess of one million litres of cooking oil annually. And the cooking oil consumed in Botswana is being imported from the neighboring South Africa at a fortune.
It is estimated that a tone of cooking oil costs at least P13 000 (US$1 200). And this money could be circulating within the country to create employment for the unemployed lot of this nation.
“The expectation is that full production of oil will start on April 15 2015 to be precise. All the tanks have been tested by filling them with water to establish if there any leakages. And the test has passed,” announced Tibe.
Tibe said URB seeks to provide quality cooking oil through the integrated use of the latest oil technology and information systems.
Raw sunflower will be imported from South Africa and gets refined at the cooking oil plant in Francistown, Tibe said. URB has resorted to importing raw sunflower from South Africa because there are no sunflower seeds crushing plants in Botswana, he said.
“The plant will produce 70tones per day with a total of 2 500 to 3 000tones per month. The (cooking) oil will be sold in Botswana and the balance will be exported to countries north of Botswana where a ready market exists,” he said.
Some of the countries earmarked to buy cooking oil from URB are Zimbabwe, whose oil producing companies have long liquidated, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) alongside Angola.
Kebonang hailed the development saying realizing full business model would result in the cutting of the import bill currently estimated at a staggering P64billion, according to statistics from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
Products to be produced are SunGold Pure, SunGold Blended, SunGold Olive Oil, SunGold mayonnaise and SunGold Margarine. In addition to these edible products, bath and washing soaps will be also manufactured at this plant situated at Dumela Industrial area.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.