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High flying Motswana woman nominated for 7 Global Awards

Basuti Gerty Bolo

A Motswana space science enthusiast, Basuti Gerty Bolo has amassed seven nominations from various international organisations recognising her role in technological development.

Bolo, a candidate for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), holds MSc Information Systems and Data Management, Post graduate Diploma in Space and Atmospheric Science, BSc Hons Geographical Information Systems, and Certificate in International Development Studies for NGOs.

Bolo is currently working as an Endowed Chair Educational Technologies at Africa University in Zimbabwe. She is a Member of the Advisory Council for Online Learning at Africa University. She is also a Peer Reviewer of Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education.

Bolo was nominated for 7 Global nomination awards; Digital Leader Award 2021; WomenTech Ambassador Award 2021; WomenTech Community Award 2021; Special Recognition: Women in ICT Award (WIICTA); Global Award for Achievement 2021,  Global Leadership Women in Tech Award 2021 and African Network of Women in Astronomy-African Astronomical Society (AfNWA-AfAS) Award for Women in Astronomy 2021.

She was also selected among the top 35 most influential women in Tech in Africa 2021 by the CIO Africa.

“Winning nomination awards is something that am proud of, I feel humbled, honored, appreciated, valued and motivated, that I can represent my country, and other women internationally at global level,” Bolo told WeekendPost

“Whatever and whenever I do something, I do it for the best and benefit of others, my culture, my country, and continent and for the world.  My focus is not on winning but on learning, gaining experiences and networking with other women who can be my role models and mentors that I can work with together as a team to address global challenges.”

Bolo said she is competing with thousands of women from different nations all over the world. “All these gives me strength as a woman that I can also lead and contribute towards empowering others by sharing knowledge on use of technologies with others globally.

Driving my Goals is one of the most important things, my passion is to see more women into technology and to reduce gender inequality in the sector, and also to promote Science technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for Girls and women. I am a role model and mentor to other women and girls at a global level.

Space science is generally a field that is dominated by male, but Bolo have had burning desire to put her name as well. “At first it was a dream of being an Astronaut, and later developed a passion on space science and technology,” she said.

“I have been interested in Science Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs from a very young age. I used to be one of the best students in mathematics and science from primary to tertiary level.”

Bolo says her curiosity for space science and technology was sparked by an interest in knowing more about unexplained mysteries of things happening in space, such as how astronauts and satellites are launched on space, the causes of some plane crashes among others.

“When studying a Post Graduate Diploma in Space and Atmospheric Science, I carried a research on the Impact of Geomagnetic Storm (sun storms) on Satellite Electronic devices and Navigation Systems. The research aimed at finding out why Satellites crash or disappear on Space with an unknown failure,” she said.

Bolo is an Endowed Chair Educational Technologies, Space Science, technology and STEM promoter, ambassador, mentor, advisor, a Peer Reviewer for Higher Education and Research.

She is also Africa50 Innovation Challenge Expert, United Nation Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Space4women Network mentor, Advisor to SpaceConnex, Managing Director for Mobile Studies Africa and Global Women in Technology Ambassador.

Bolo is an International Academy of Space Law of Russia ambassador to Botswana, Space for Women, Women in Aerospace Africa, and Africa Space Tourism Society ambassador. She was currently appointed Group of 100 Women Global Leaders (G100)_Space Technology Wing: Botswana Country Chair.

Bolo assumed a leadership role in expert meetings, mentoring, inspiring and motivating others regional and international such as the SADC, African Leadership Congress, NASA Space Apps Innovation Challenge and the United Nations.

Bolo’s initiative aims at to get more women and girls to study the STEM program and to enter the space sector in order to drive the SDGs and solve global challenges, to empower women and reduce gender inequality.

She is mentoring more than 100 students per year globally on STEM and Space science, technology and applications. She was one of the mentors and judges for the Africa50 Innovation Challenge projects (2020), NASA Space Apps Innovation Challenge projects for the countries of Philippines (2020) and Italy (2021).

On March 2021, she was invited by the Islamic World Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) as a guest speaker to motivate Islamic women at the ICESCO Women ICONs launch: An Inspiration for the Future that was held on the 11 March 2021 in Morocco.

On October 2021, she was invited to attend the UN/Brazil/United Arab Emirates Space for Women Expert Meeting: Initiatives, challenges and opportunities for women in space that was held at the Dubai Convention Centre (Expo 2020), Dubai in United Arab Emirates from 21-22 October 2021. She was also the moderator for the Discussion session: How to Empower Women into Space Group


Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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