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SADC revives single currency dream

SADC-revives-single-currency-dream

This week, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government’s 41st meeting held in Lilongwe, Malawi, has re-ignited the long-held southern blog’s single currency dream.

The meeting was held under strict conditions with a limited number to observe COVID-19 protocols. Only eight Presidents attended the summit, while Prime Ministers and Ministers represented others. The meet was preceded by a Council of Ministers meeting held in hybrid format, whereby a limited number of delegates attended physically, while others attended through virtual platforms. Botswana was represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Lemogang Kwape, accompanied by Kagiso Mmusi of Defence and Mmusi Kgafela of Trade.

Among the key highlights of the 41st SADC Summit, the Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, bid farewell to the SADC Heads of State and Government after serving for eight years, and a new SADC Executive Secretary Elias Magosi was sworn in. He became the first-ever Motswana to hold the position.

Botswana has housed SADC since the then SADCC in 1980 but has never occupied the topmost leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat. Meanwhile, the Southern African countries are still resolute and hell-bent on the single currency objective.

“The Summit reaffirmed SADC’s position that the creation of the SADC Central Bank and Monetary Union, as a long-term objective to be premised on fulfilling pre-conditions that include the harmonization of the fiscal and monetary policies of SADC countries, and greater convergence of banking systems. In this regard, the African Monetary Institute and the African Central Bank should be long-term objectives,” said the communiqué from the meeting.

The single currency in the SADC was to be implemented around 2016. The idea was driven by the desire to prevent that level of conflict between neighbouring countries. But even that noble intention has not ensured harmonious collaboration — some encountered severe problems, including the EURO, and there are constant calls from both the left and the right for it to be discontinued.

Botswana’s Kwape could not shed light on this country’s position on the single currency plan. But it seems Botswana is in full support of the idea. However, it remains to be seen if SADC will ever implement the concept.

The thinking is that a single currency will eliminate exchange-rate fluctuations and transaction costs. SADC leaders support their stance with the reasoning that money would no longer need to be exchanged. Furthermore, they anticipate lower interest rates; equal pricing across borders; increased trade between countries; increased cross-border employment, expanding markets for business, financial market stability as stock exchanges would deal only in a single currency.

Dr. Martyn Davies, the chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a company that provides investment advice on emerging markets, is quoted believing that though regional trade integration is imperative for SADC’s economic survival, monetary union in the style of the euro is not – and is, in fact, not possible given the inequality in the development of the countries in the region.

University of Cape Town academic Lee-Roy Chetty also agrees that it is an unrealistic goal, depending on variables such as tax integration, political stability, and border security in the bloc’s 15 member states. “Within this context, in my opinion, the SADC region is not an optimal currency region (OCA) for a successful transition to a single currency model,” he was also quoted saying.

Chetty adds that at its core, a single currency zone is not only an economic but also a political project: “It would require political unity and co-operation as well as consolidating countries into a regional alliance, which would, in theory, increase production efficiency and faster economic growth.”

Countries entering monetary unions would necessarily lose control over interest and exchange rate policies. “Countries that form part of the SADC bloc are at varying development stages of economic growth. For example, South Africa has significant interests in the SADC region and dominates the region economically. It accounts for 41% of SADC’s total trade and about 63% of SADC’s gross domestic product.”

For these reasons, it is said, the “one-size-fits-all” approach of a single currency is unrealistic in the region. The SADC summit was held under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”. The theme sought to accelerate the implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020–2030, particularly the Industrialization and Market Integration pillar.

Still at the summit, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi, took over the chairpersonship of SADC from Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique. The latter assumed the chairpersonship of SADC on 17th August 2020 during the 40th SADC Summit.

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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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