After approximately nine months since closing its borders as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the Corona-virus, Botswana has moved to open its borders entirely. The borders, just like the re-opening of business operations especially the trading of alcoholic beverages, will be opened in a phased manner.
A week ago, government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications lifted restrictions of international travel and announced the re-commencement of air travel. The ailing Air Botswana was quick to make this pronounced statement, saying it will offer four week flights between Gaborone and Johannesburg. However, this was to be adjusted based on travel demand.
Other regional destinations are to be gradually introduced, including Cape Town, Harare and Lusaka. This weekend, government lifted the suspension of cross-border passenger road transport operations. This means that with effect from December 1st, travel enthusiasts, tourists, cross-border business partners and consumers can finally stamp their passports at different points of entry.
Even though borders are wide open, government emphasizes strict adherence to COVID-19 regulations. The virus still persists, and continues to claim more lives in the country. Death tolls in the neighbouring South Africa where Botswana is opening its borders to, continues to surge.
Government says cross-border operators must clean their vehicles regularly and sanitizing travellers frequently. A passenger shall present their valid 72-hour negative COVID-19 result to either bus operator, conductor or driver before boarding the bus. As it is the new normal, there has be no selling inside a public service vehicle, and touting is banned also.
As of 15th November 2020, according to the COVID-19 Case Report, there are over 8 000 confirmed cases of the contagious COVID-19 in Botswana. The number of active cases are at 818, with over 7 000 recoveries. Botswana is doing well in containing the Corona-virus, this is evident with the number of recoveries recorded lately.
However, the number of deaths continues to surge. There are 31 people who have lost their lives to the deadly virus, mostly of the victims are those with underlying health conditions. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring South Africa, 2270 more people have tested positive for the Corona-virus in the last 24-hours. This takes the total number of confirmed cases to 767 669.
Gauteng province, which is highly urbanized but the smallest province in South Africa, still has the most infections provincially, accounting for 30.4% of total cases, while the Northern Cape has recorded the least cases-accounting for 3% of total cases. Thus far 58 new deaths have been recorded with most of the fatalities from the Eastern Cape, which has recorded 28 deaths.
Even though the Botswana government has decided to open some borders, others will remain shut. Tlokweng border, Ramatlabama border, Martins Drift border, Ramokgwebana, Kazungula will start receiving and sending travellers this festive season. Some of the borders still closed are: Zanzibar, Platjan, Sikwane border, Tlokweng border, Hereford, Makopong, Mamuno and Ngoma border amongst others.
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.