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Francistown’s 120 years: a time for introspection over festivity (ii)

GOBE TAZIBA

“Economic development cannot take a nation forward on its own. We need a society and economy which complement each other” -Narendra Modi

Welcome to part two (ii) of this series ‘Francistown’s 120 years: a time for introspection over festivity’. Part one (i) focused on the background of this series, it spoke to several experiences and perspectives about; -Francistown, -Socioeconomic Development and -Youth Development. It also covered the author’s honest and simple opinion on introspection over festivities for Francistown’s 120 years.

It discussed the possible viewpoints and interpretations of Francistown’s 120 years based on generational segmentation. Lastly it clarified that this series strives to deliberate Francistown’s 120 years from a Youth Development and Youth Welfare viewpoint. Building up from part one (i) this installment focuses on Francistown’s socioeconomic development, thus policy frameworks in relation to the reality on the ground.

Perhaps before I go any further, it should be stated outright that in this author’s honest conviction Francistown is currently not doing very well socially, economically and otherwise. This is attributed to many reasons, but chief among them is the liquidation of Tati Nickel Mine. Unfortunately necessary subsequent socioeconomic interventions have exclusively and intensively focused on Selebi-Phikwe. Though the liquidation evidently and largely catalyzed crumbling of Francistown’s economy, the city’s economy was already headed for an invertible huge socioeconomic trouble.

The structure and lay out of Francistown’s economy is, and was, such that it over relied on economic activity associated with mere extraction and exportation of raw minerals. As we all know, mere extraction and exportation of raw minerals is a heavily capital intensive process, it therefore needs and uses a lot of money but employs relatively fewer people compared to other sectors. This simply means the money for the many is generated and earned by the few, thus creating an appalling state of socioeconomic dependence, plus economic exclusion and marginalization within the city economic setup.

This unfortunate reality further burdened the mining industry; the industry thus directly and/or indirectly supported the general livelihoods of the immediate and larger Francistown populace. The industry further provided direct and indirect business opportunities for many small, medium and some large native enterprises in and around the city. This reality is a basic remedy for an invertible socioeconomic catastrophe. I assume it was the admission of this fact that Francistown Vision 2022 and the subsequent Francistown Investment Forum (FIF) were established in earnest.

These strategic interventions collectively, and precisely, seek to provide guidance and implementation to the much needed economic transformation and vibrancy of the city. The frameworks intend to have transformed the city of Francistown into an investment center of vibrancy by the year 2022. They strive to achieve this by competitively; -attracting multitudes of investments and investors to the city, -diversifying and expanding the city’s economic activity, -developing a vibrant export led economy, -heightening private and public partnerships, -promoting commercial and industrial activities in the city, -developing effective multiple revenue generation strategies and, -implementing local economic development strategies.

They further strive to strategically achieve this through some of the following strategic sectors; -Tourism, -Sports and Recreation, -Real Estate and Property Development, -Agribusiness, -Renewable Energy, -Manufacturing and Value Addition. These strategic frameworks also strive to capitalize on several supportive government policies such as; Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), Public Private Partnership (PPP), Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), and Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE). I must admit the thinking behind the establishment of Vision 2022 and the FIF is progressive and commendable, it is in line with international economic development best practices globally.

However the city’s greatest challenge appears to be in the execution and monitoring of this world class socioeconomic development strategy. The Vision 2022 and FIF song has been chanted for a fairly longtime now; the time for tangible and progressive results is long overdue. At this point, 5years before 2022, it is no longer about false promises and ‘building castles in the air’. It is no longer about endless plans, frameworks and strategies. It’s about sincere implementation, monitoring and results. 

It’s about the multitudes of young people in Francistown languishing in a miserable and helpless state of; joblessness, hopelessness, economic marginalization and exclusion, drugs and crime of all sorts. It’s about the many young girls and gents that survive on the Ipelegeng. It’s about highly skilled young citizens that continue to slide into a widening pool of joblessness as companies liquidate, downsize and/or relocate from the city. It is about youth owned enterprises that collapse due to imports, unfair businesses practices and high costs of production. 

It’s about tremendous opportunities missed as investors continue to opt for competitively vibrant investment destinations.  It’s about the many brilliant young brains put to waste, and forced into undesirable and risky lifestyles for survival in the city. It’s about the many brilliant brains that continue to migrate due to frustration and hopelessness. It is about the city’s young generation that mostly gives up way too early in this life journey because the ray of hope in the city keeps getting dimmer and dimmer every month and year. As a competing city we have to be worried when the only ambition of our young citizens is to relocate.

‘Brain Drain’ is a renowned deadly socioeconomic development enemy.   This on its own should says a lot to the city’s torchbearers, it should in fact give them sleepless nights. Francistown is, or should be, a city; it isn’t and shouldn’t be turned into a home village. A home village is where the finest sons and daughters happily grow up and later happily move to bigger towns and cities characterized by greater economic activity and opportunities. For Francistown to actualize its vision of becoming an ‘investment center of vibrancy’ by 2022, the city has an imperative duty of producing, retaining and attracting the best and the greatest Youth brains in this country, region and further afield. 

This is one of the fundamental starting points for economic vibrancy and relevance. It is actually the winning formula for most winning nations such as UK, China and the US. The next installment will focus on the dynamics of perceived economic development and social development in the city of Francistown. It will also focus on reawakening hope in the Youth of Francistown and building a shared and inclusive vision with all, and for all.  

* Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 0354/gtaziba@yahoo.co.uk)

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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