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Trade’s budget pie and COVID-19 anxieties

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame says in the current financial year her Ministry has facilitated the creation of a total of 10 951 jobs against an annual target of 11 400. Overall, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of P773.56 million was achieved between April 2020 and December 2020

This is against an annual target of P2.3 billion; and a total of P1.9 billion in Domestic Investment (new and expansions) was achieved against an annual target of P3.5 billion.

In addition to these, Serame indicated that they (the Ministry) facilitated 532 business start-ups against an annual target of 1015. This underperformance across all sectors, she says, reflects the general adverse impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Nonetheless, Serame said online businesses, designing and promoting digital technology, healthcare and bio-diversity as well as renewable energy and agri-business have emerged.

In response to the COVID-19 impact on businesses, Serame said short and long term interventions were drawn to relief and sustain businesses during the crisis period.

A wage subsidy was introduced, including a P40 million CEDA Emergency Response Fund and a P50 million Contingency Fund towards affected companies in the form of equity injections and loans to maintain operations of the affected investee companies was established.

The CEDA Emergency Response Fund, Serame said, was introduced to aid CEDA funded businesses whose working capital was jeopardized by the COVID-19 waves. It also assisted those that found opportunities amidst the COVID-19 chaos, especially those that produced or supplied medical supplies during this period.

CEDA funded 59 citizen owned businesses to the tune of P32.8 million through the fund as at January 2021. Letlhabile on the other hand was launched to assist the informal sector through the provision of loans, similarly to those affected by the pandemic. Over P31.4 million was used to aid 6769 informal businesses.

Late last year, government introduced a medium to long term Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) to extend financial support to businesses so as to assist the revival of the economy.

In this regard, Serame said P700 000 000 was appropriated under the Industry Support Facility. Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) received P100 million, while Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) received P300 million each.

To date, according to the Investment Minister, LEA has assisted 10 074 informal sector enterprises with P1000 grant valued at P10.07 million. As at the end of January 2021, CEDA approved 20 Industry Support Fund (ISF) applications valued at P4.4 million.

According to Serame, two applications valued at P805 000 are in the manufacturing sector while 18 are valued at P3.6 million are in the service sector.

BDC on the other hand, has received requests amounting to P190.5 million mostly from the healthcare sector at 27%, retail at 21% and other sectors at 15% (including manufacturing, mining and hospitality).

Serame said in her report that BDC has approved and funded two companies at P25 million each bringing total funded to P50 million.

She said LEA is engaging with the private sector to facilitate market entry for SMMEs. In the current year. Market access has also been secured for some SMMEs, which have supplied goods to the value of P43.2 million as at December 2020.

In terms of Import Substitution, Serame indicated that a total of P26 million was produced and supplied by local SMMEs. This was mainly in horticulture and textiles products, which is in line with the priority areas of agriculture and manufacturing. “The boost was also due to the manufacturing of personal protective equipment products related to COVID-19, such as face masks and other protective materials,” says Serame.

Since the launch of the revised CEDA guidelines to January this year, CEDA has approved loans amounting to P452 million, funding 5456 businesses. The number of jobs maintained stands at 3438 while the number of jobs created stands at 7362.

Meanwhile, Serame says the Milk Afric project has experienced some delays but will commence operations in June 2021. She says BDC is in the process of soliciting technical partners who are keen to acquire an equity stake in the business and an Expression of Interest has been floated locally and into the region, to allow for maximum reach and for a wider pool of experienced candidates.  Once fully operational, Serame says Milk Afric will create 215 job opportunities.

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Food prices continue to rise, but at a slower rate

28th November 2022

Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

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Still doing business the old way?

18th November 2022

It’s time to get business done better with MTN Business Botswana’s ICT Solutions.

Running a digital businessMTN Business Solutions Botswana, popularly known as MTN Business is an Internet Service Provider. We are a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, a multinational telecommunications Group headquartered in South Africa, which operates in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East.

More and more, clients are looking for ways to keep their staff productive in a dynamically changing business environment. Whether your people are working from home, the office or abroad, there is a growing recognition that digitising your operations can offer unprecedented commercial value in flexibility, productivity and growth. This new, digital reality means that it is more important than ever to stay agile – if there is anything that can slow a business down, it is being burdened by othatld technology.

Having made substantial investments in fibre technology, high-speed terrestrial and undersea networks and new frequency spectrum across the markets wherein it operates, MTN is perfectly positioned to respond to this shift in the market.

A few years ago, MTN also made the decision to build an IP capable radio network for its mobile services, giving its core network the ability to seamlessly integrate with enterprise IP networks. The mobile towers deliver services to enterprise clients absolutely anywhere it has a network, shortening the last mile and removing complexity and cost.

Now there is increasing demand from clients to connect their remote sites in all areas, including rural and semi- rural. MTN has assisted clients with overcoming this connectivity hurdle, enabling their staff to get the job done wherever they are.
MTN’s evolution

For MTN, the focus has shifted from just being a core telecommunications services provider, towards also becoming a technology solutions provider. The service offering now also includes Unified Communications, Data Hosting and Cloud Solutions, Security-As-A-Service and Managed Network Services. The scope has changed to being client and industry specific, so the requirements and service portfolio vary from one client to the next. The expectation is that a company like MTN must respond to these challenges, helping clients to get business done better as they shift from old to new technologies.

As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
Ultimately, clients need partners like MTN Business that will invest in infrastructure, deliver the services they require, have market credibility, are financially sound and have a long-term commitment to their market presence.

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BIE to vitalize the Dignity of Engineers

9th November 2022

Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in  which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.

The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.

Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.

“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.

He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.

Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.

“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.

He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.

He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc

“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran

Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.

“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.

Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that  the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.

“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.

He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.

“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams

He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .

Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution  said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.

“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.

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