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The life of pie

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

“There's only so much we can do in Botswana.” someone said to me the other day.   “We have to accept our limitations: small landlocked country, giant neighbours, dependency on diamonds, low competitiveness…” And so the spew of negativity continued as I listened to limiting beliefs, pessimism and a scarcity mentality which included jobs going to foreigners.

Personally, I am feeling particularly upbeat about our future these days. I can see the beginning of change and sense the possibilities that go with political leadership that is saying the right things necessary for opening mindsets and growing the economy. Not so with this individual whose thinking was that there is only so much pie to go around, and if you get some there will be less for me.

His win-lose paradigm is typical to those who view attracting talented foreigners to Botswana as a threat. We face a lie that acts like a virus in Botswana.

And that lie is the one about the tiny pie and the queue to beg a slice, along with ‘we need to protect our jobs from foreigners’ and it stems from this scarcity mindset. Part of the truth is that there is not enough jobs at the moment – at any level – but of course it is most glaring at the school/university leaving level. But is it exacerbated by bringing in foreigners who will start business ventures or manage within our companies?

What if we flew in the world’s 100 best managers into Botswana and gave them jobs in our top companies?  What the impact would be? It is probably obvious. It’s a great case for considering reducing the red tape and the hurdles one must jump over and other administration stuff to get a work permit and encourage talent to come to Botswana to work. How would having these managers impact the economy or would it just be a case of 100 less jobs for Batswana?  I am tempted to believe that these managers would grow existing businesses, look for new opportunities, develop talent and other positive stuff like increasing the size of the pie or baking some extra ones. This spin off is potentially endless. Bring in goodness to any situation and it spreads more goodness and positive outcomes.

Of course, our thinking is not there yet when it comes to opening opportunities to foreigners and while I respect that the scenario I paint lacks the complexity of the reality, the beauty is in the simplicity and the notion of what if?  Are we limiting our thinking and if we saw the situation somehow differently would we respond and approach the situation differently?


The truth is that limitation is a thought and mind-set which serves no purpose than to, well, er, limit. Abundance is a mind-set that there’s more than enough to go around. There is more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough opportunity.  Michael Beckwith says “There is enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That's the truth.”

A scenario presented to me recently in a book titled ‘The Inside-Out Revolution’, seems appropriate to share. Imagine that a man comes to you for advice. He is about to turn 30 and he has decided that it is time to grow up and take over the family carpentry business. He wants you to share some innovative marketing techniques, work with him on how to make better personal decisions and assist him to incorporate technology to bring the business into at least the new millennium.

You have your coaching hat on, so you can help with this stuff. But even as you are speaking you sense that something is bothering you about the conversation. He is saying all the right things and seems willing to do all the right things and yet something still feels out of alignment. Following your intuition, you do a little bit of research on this person and you find out to your surprise that his name is Jesus and he is from a small town in the Galilean region of Israel called Nazareth. Here is the question do you really want to work with him on becoming more successful in his carpentry business or would you be tempted to try and guide him towards becoming something a bigger destiny, more aligned who they truly are?

When we see this person for who they can be we are inspired to act. A good coach should never offer advice but, I admit to doing it all the time and while I accept it  is a mark against me in terms of following the rules of coaching, I can’t help myself because I believe that sometimes  offering advice is more valuable than letting a lost coachee waste too much time stumbling to find a solution to a problem or heading off in the wrong direction..

I am using this story as an allegory for out national quandary.  Do we just continue with our mediocre carpentry or do we rise to the challenge of being the Son of God?  Translates to ‘Do we want a Botswana as a powerful nation really open for business or would we prefer to remain a small country of small minded-people, limited by its fear of really opening and realising its potential?’  Don’t bother answering – the question is of course rhetorical.

Contrast and compare with Dubai, for instance.  Most people think that Dubai became rich due to it being a part of the Gulf, the oil well of the world, but the major part of around a $100 billion revenue of the state comes from prosperous areas like real estate, airlines and ports. Oil comprises only seven percent of the total revenue whereas the rest of the income comes from heavy investments in industries and land. It came from thinking differently, really diversifying its economy and by inviting outsiders in so locals could prosper.

Yes, Dubai was originally boosted by its underground wealth in a former desert, but it went on to use that as a basis for growth, diversity and economic success.  Now think about Botswana.  It too is largely a desert land and its prosperity too was founded on its rich underground reserves, in this instance diamonds. 

But they were discovered nearly half a century ago, just like Dubai’s oil, yet instead of opening endless possibilities to diversify the economy, it is as reliant on that one single pie, a tasty pie, to be sure as it was back then.  What’s wrong with more pies and dozens of different fillings, just like those available in Dubai?  There’s more choice in their corner shops than in our national patisserie because no-one can be bothered to roll up their sleeves and start making some extra pastry.

What if we flew in the world’s 100 best managers into Botswana and gave them jobs in our top companies?  What the impact would be? It is probably obvious. It’s a great case for considering reducing the red tape and the hurdles one must jump over and other administration stuff to get a work permit and encourage talent to come to Botswana to work. How would having these managers impact the economy or would it just be a case of 100 less jobs for Batswana? 

I am tempted to believe that these managers would grow existing businesses, look for new opportunities, develop talent and other positive stuff like increasing the size of the pie or baking some extra ones. This spin off is potentially endless. Bring in goodness to any situation and it spreads more goodness and positive outcomes.

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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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