The Chairman of the Southern District Council (SDC), Mephato Reatile has called on Councils not to be apologetic in their bid to empower citizens. Delivering his maiden address to the Council recently, Reatile said he fully associates with the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy adopted by parliament in 2012.
I was a member of parliament then, and I strongly supported the draft policy. Parliament passed the policy because it recognised that our national development strategy cannot succeed when Batswana are left marginalized away from fully participating in the building of their own economy.
“This is our country and we must not be apologetic about empowering our people. If we fail to do so, where do we expect them to get empowerment to a point where they are able to prosper and graduate from being concentrated at the SMMEs level to become captains of their respective industries and commerce in general?”
Reatile said as Southern District Council, they must endeavour to make concerted efforts to ensure that this worthy legislation is implemented and given full expression through procurement processes that place Batswana, especially young entrepreneurs and SMMEs in general at the forefront of economic activity.
“Within the framework of existing procurement processes, let us strive to elevate our Council to a position where it will be admired for being the hub of citizen economic empowerment. For as long as they operate within the law I urge our technocrats to be bold and take that extra step in making our empowerment drive a reality,” he stressed.
Reatile said as politicians, they cannot micromanage procurement of goods and services, but they have a duty to exercise strong oversight through committees and ensure the empowerment drive is fairly implemented to a point where sons and daughters of the privileged and the less privileged will be inspired to dream big and work hard towards realizing their dream.
“And they can only muster that courage and inspiration if they know that only their brainpower and hard-work is the passport to winning business in their own council. I want you all not to misunderstand me to be saying non-citizens are prohibited from bidding for projects and supply of goods and services in Southern District,” he observed.
Reatile said Botswana’s laws give non-citizens the right to participate but in doing so, he encouraged them to go into joint ventures with locals even where it is not a tender requirement. “After all, we will certainly struggle if we were to try to come up with at least one name of a country that was able to prospering without an input from citizens of other countries.”
He said non-Batswana companies which make such an the effort must be recognised by extending preferential treatment in the award of tenders because in so doing government will be helping them transfer skills and best practises to their local partners.
He said at SDC, the political leadership of the council shall work together with the leadership of the administrative wing of the council to work-out exactly how the empowerment drive shall be roll-out.
Still on the subject of economic empowerment, Reatile further made an undertaking to establish the Southern District Business Forum/Economic Forum. He said the mandate of the forum shall be to pull together various stakeholders for the purpose of addressing issues of trade and commerce; identify and exploit available economic opportunities that the district has.
“All shall take part in the forum, right from our VDCs to business community, central government organs, public enterprises and others crucial partners we shall together agree on. While more information on the forum shall be communicated to the entire district in due course, it is worth emphasizing that it need be remembered that the be all and end all of the forum is to improve the status of economy of our beloved district.”
The chairman observed that the district needs to harness its economic power, from tourism and hospitality to mining; retail; to fashion, arts and entertainment; commercial farming; sports and; the service sector to mention but a few of what can make up the economy of this district. He observed that the initiative extends to bringing our ever vibrant informal sector closer to the mainstream of our local economy.
This shall be attained through targeted interventions. “Once again, I appeal to you all to humble me and indeed our council, both its political and administrative wings. If we get it right from our first attempt, then Southern District would be poised to become a model for other local authorities on how best to deliver meaningful citizen economic empowerment.”
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.