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BERA vows to end possible collusion in the LPG industry


Government owned organization that regulates the petroleum sector, Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA), is on the process restructuring the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry to allow efficient competition and end possible collusion in the business. LPG is sold to consumers in the form of cooking gas in cylinders.

In the recent LPG industry study report, BERA confirmed that the restructuring could be implemented this year. According to BERA the restructuring is expected to open the sector for more players and facilitate increased citizen participation. BERA’s recommendations to restructure the industry came after the Botswana Competition Authority’s concerns that the sector is controlled by few foreign companies which could be colluding and overcharging consumers of cooking gas. Competition Authority (CA) has established that the LPG industry is poorly structured as there is no clear demarcation between LPG importers, distributors and retailers.

According to the CA some importers and distributors sell gas to both retailers and individual customers who under normal circumstances, should be served by retailers. “Importers, distributors and retailers compete for the same customers. In the process, it is retailers who suffer the most because they are out-priced by the more dominant distributors and wholesalers. In fact, the existence of the distributor adds more burdens to consumers in terms of increased price of the commodity. There is need to re-organize the industry to achieve efficient competition,” said CA.

CA found that importers wholly or partly own distributors plants and in-turn 70 percent of distributors own retail plants. It stated that the common practice in the LPG industry is that distributors avail the land for importers to provide, install and maintain the gas refilling equipment and noted that this gives importers some level of control at the distribution.

CA investigating officer, Ernest Bagopi added that lack of regulation in the industry created favorable conditions for possible numerous competition infringements and this calls for restructuring of the sector. CA said its recent study found that the industry is oligopolistic and is characterized by low levels of competition and dishonesty. “There are some elements of dishonesty as costs of imports declared at the border compared to submission to the Authority show some discrepancy,” said Bagopi.

He said recent study by CA established that prices for LPG in Botswana are unreasonably high. In the study report CA said during the second half of 2011 importers experienced a shortage of LPG due to the closure of three biggest refineries in South Africa and this led to the local price of LPG increasing by approximately 39%. “After recovery of the supply market, the import price dropped by a higher percentage but selling price to consumers was never dropped. This indicates a possibility of local LPG being excessively priced,” said the officer.

According to the report Botswana’s retail price for cooking gas is higher when compared to other countries in Southern Africa. “Data collected by CA shows that Botswana is the second most expensive country in the region after Zambia. Countries which are much further than the primary supplier (South Africa) have average prices that are lower than in Botswana and this shows that there is a reasonable indication of excessive pricing in Botswana.”

BERA stated that it will re-organize the LPG industry to attain efficient competition. “The existing 3-tier model could be revised to a 2-tier model comprising LPG suppliers and retailers and the new LPG regulations shall prohibit the sale of gas to individual consumers by importers.” BERA said in the next 6 to 12 months it will undertake further research to find out incurred costs along the LPG value chain and develop pricing rules for the industry.

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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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