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Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 8)

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

This week, we are continuing with this series whose purpose is to consider whether or not His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is delivering on his inaugural speech promises, commitments and undertakings.  

Last week we dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that, in line with Vision 2036, which he said is aligned to the 2030 United Nations Agenda on Sustainable Development and Africa’s Agenda 2063, investment in research, science, technology and innovation will be prioritised to enable Botswana’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy.

We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s undertaking to ensure that the transformation of education and training, through the Human Resource Development Strategy of 2009, receives all the necessary support in order to ensure that education meets the needs of industry. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that, as part of the reforms proposed by the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2015-2020, his government will introduce pre-primary education as well as expanding such school facilities as classrooms, teachers’ quarters and building new primary and secondary schools throughout the country to respond to the growing population of our towns, villages and settlements.

We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that his government will continue to focus and intensify the maintenance of the existing school facilities to ensure an enabling environment for effective delivery of the education, learning and training programmes. H.E Dr. Masisi promised that his government will not hesitate to intervene, where necessary, to cause the inclusion of new primary and secondary schools in the current NDP11 as per the dictates of Botswana’s population dynamics.

This, he said, will all be done to to improve the quality of our education system as well as ensuring universal access to pre-primary, primary and secondary education. We considered how far H.E Dr. Masisi’s government has moved in that regard. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s undertaking that his government will also continue intensifying and sharpening teacher training, re-training and retooling to build their capacity to adapt to the ever-changing education environment, especially in the areas of ICT.

This week deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that through such programmes as Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector.

This, he said, is cardinal if agriculture is to contribute to economic growth, diversification and the achievement of food security at household and national levels. He said his government will, in order to boost agricultural output, start an aggressive programme of land use intensification while protecting the inalienable rights of land holders. We also deal with his promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism.

This, he said, is a must do if the tourism sector is to significantly contribute to the growth and diversification of Botswana’s economy away from minerals, especially diamonds. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi undertaking that his government will, additionally, rejuvenate the capacity of citizens to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector, stating that steps will be taken to ensure that game farming, as an enterprise, is promoted so that it becomes attractive and profitable.

We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions by combining treatment, care and support, stating that a rejuvenated attention on the major determinants of our national health practices including the manner of response to HIV and AIDS will be given.

First, the tabling of legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities. This would have, no doubt, been a quick wing that could have delivered H.E Dr. Masisi immediate political mileage, yet more than a year since his inauguration nothing has moved in that regard. This, despite the fact that immediately before he ascended to the presidency Botswana was, and still is, riddled by corruption scandals of hitherto unknown proportions, one of which is the National Petroleum Fund scandal.

One, therefore, wonders whether there is hope that H.E Dr. Masisi would facilitate the enactment of such long awaited legislation as the Access to Information Act, legislation which has little support in his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Second, H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector. In my view, H.E Dr. Masisi’s predecessor, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, had more commitment and passion in this area than H.E Dr. Masisi.

Though such programmes as ISPAAD and LIMID did not bring the dividends they were expected to yield during his reign, Dr. Khama could not be faulted for lack of political will. What was lacking was the implementation capacity. On the contrary, despite having gained Dr. Khama’s favour because of his passion for poverty eradication programmes, something which gained him the presidency, such programmes do not seem to be H.E Dr. Masisi priority. He has not yet identified himself as pro-agriculture.

Yet, H.E Dr. Masisi rightly identified agriculture as cardinal for economic growth, diversification and the achievement of food security at household and national levels. One wonders why he has not given it the attention it deserves. Third, H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment to start an aggressive programme of land use intensification while protecting the inalienable rights of land holders. This, he rightly said, is critical to boost agricultural output. How can there be intensification of land use when the efforts to commercialise agriculture are so negligible? Surely, commercialisation of agriculture is the main way through which intensification of land use can be achieved.

Fourth, H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism. Though we are not yet in a position to determine the progress in this area, one thing we can say without fear of contradiction is that H.E Dr. Masisi has made citizen empowerment in the tourism sector a priority.

His stance on such tourism related issues as the hunting ban, the need to manage elephant populations and empowerment of citizens to enter the tourism industry has been unequivocal. It is needless to say that rejuvenating citizens’ capacity to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector through such ventures as game farming can go a long way in diversifying our economy.

Lastly, H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions. Incontrovertibly, this is one area that we continue to excel in. Our HIV and AIDS treatment, care and support, programme continues to be hailed as one of the best in the world.
However, just like his predecessor, H.E Dr. Masisi has not, like former President Festus Mogae, for instance, taken the lead role in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Perhaps it is because HIV and AIDS is no longer at the pandemic levels it was during Mogae’s tenure, but he has to take leadership nonetheless lest some people rest on their laurels to their peril.

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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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