Botswana Post, one of the countryís oldest parastatals is battling for its spot in the evolving communications landscape, up against the digital wave and technological advancements that threatens its soul with extinction.
Over the recent years there has been a mass migration of postal services consumers from that traditional means of communication to the digital world, where mail and letter are little to no longer relevant.
However the Post Office still has chances of survival, this is premised around the fact that technology, access to internet and digital offerings have not yet arrived in some parts of the country, making postal services still very much useful especially in rural areas.
In Parliament last week, when presenting the Ministry of Transport & Communications budget proposals for the financial year 2022/23, Minister Thulaganyo Segokgo said despite being one of the oldest public services in the country, BotswanaPost remains a key institution in the country and provides not just letter mail, but a host of other products and services underpinned by investment in highly skilled and innovative teams, systems, and technology as a major business sustainability anchor in the face of diminishing traditional postal business.
He highlighted some of the Post Office ‘s achievements in the ending financial year 2021/22, such as; installation of Virtual Teller Machines (VTMís), enhancement of the traditional Post Box to a Virtual Post Box, Piloting of an automated parcel home delivery service and ongoing expansion of retail kiosks.
“BotswanaPost continuously strives for financial inclusion, hence why the company deployed five (5) Virtual Teller Machines in Seronga, Maun, Francistown, Palapye and Gaborone.” he said.
VTMs are self-service interactive and smart service points that will offer Postal services 24/7, access ensuring that Poso services are always available even beyond normal office hours.
According to Minister Segokgo these are innovative solutions aimed at addressing postal exclusion among the youth and people in urban areas.
“It allows customers to use cellphone numbers as their personal post box number and receive SMS notifications when they receive mail and parcels. BotswanaPost continues to recognize growth on some of their online platforms such as their mobile wallet PosoMoney, Poso App and DRTS Online.”
In terms of revenue stability, Parliament was told that BotswanaPost continues to diversify its revenue streams through its commercial mandate hence going into strategic partnerships to develop a local switch/payment gateway which will benefit Batswana in terms of reduced merchant fees and guarantee the government of Botswana returns in sectors like Tourism.
The Minister revealed that in the coming financial year Botswana Post will continue to expand the Virtual Teller Machines in most parts of Botswana including rolling out the Digital Post Office that has been on the pipeline for some time.
Digital Post Office is aimed at empowering Women, Youth and SMMEís that wish to sell BotswanaPostís products and services thus making a living.
Despite financial constraints, BotswanaPost has managed to carryout major upgrades in five (5) Post Offices being; Sikwane, Maun, Pandamatenga, Rakops and Tumasera.
Furthermore, two (2) new Post Offices were constructed in Ntlhantlhe and Ramotlabaki this financial year. At least three more refurbished posts will be opened before the end of the year.
Minister Segokgo however noted that despite the successes, Botswana Post is challenged by lack of capital, hence inability to meet of all of its liability obligations. Segokgo attributed this to non-profitable markets in the rural areas of Botswana where universal postal services are still required.
He highlighted that Botswana Post is not able to refurbish most of its infrastructure which have dilapidated over time due to lack of funding noting that efforts have however been made to partner with local communities to cut costs
“It is critical that government should continue efforts towards reimbursement of Universal Service Obligation (USO) to ensure BotswanaPost† meets its obligations” he said.
From its Corporate Services budget of just over P314 million, the Ministry of Transport & Communications has allocated over P220 million to Grants and Subvention.
This will be distributed as follows: Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) P 119, 470,380 and Botswana Post (Universal Service Obligation) P 75, 000,000. Personnel Emoluments has been allocated P 53 181 660 and the remaining P 33, 444,770 is for other charges.
Minister Segokgo underscored that it is important for Government to continue supporting Botswana Post in an effort to enable other government services to reach rural areas through countrywide footprint of the Post Office.
In the financial year ended March 2021 Botswana Post received P78 million in Universal Service income from the Government for providing essential mail services to the most marginalised areas of Botswana.
For the same year, the company achieved a Gross Profit of P72.94 million from P97.07 million in 2020. Mirroring a decrease of 25%. As a result†of COVID – 19 amongst other reasons, Botswana Post ‘s loss before taxation rose to P42.83 million from P39.01 million in 2020 which is an adverse movement of 10% in contrast to the previous financial year.
China‚Äôs Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 3% year-on-year to 121.02 trillion yuan ($17.93 trillion) in 2022 despite being mired in various growth pressures, according to data from the National Bureau Statistics.
The annual growth rate beat a median economist forecast of 2.8% as polled by Reuters. The country‚Äôs fourth-quarter GDP growth of 2.9% also surpassed expectations for a 1.8% increase.
In 2022, the Chinese economy encountered more difficulties and challenges than was expected amid a complex domestic and international situation. However, NBS said economic growth stabilized after various measures were taken to shore up growth.
Industrial output rose 3.6% in 2022 over the previous year, while retail sales slightly shrank by 0.2% data show that fixed-asset investment increased 5.1% over 2021, with a 9.1% hike in manufacturing investment but a 10% fall in property investment.
China created 12.06 million new jobs in urban regions throughout the year, surpassing its annual target of 11 million, and officials have stressed the importance of continuing an employment-first policy in 2023.
Meanwhile, China tourism market is a step closer to robust recovery. Tourism operators are in high spirits because the market saw a good chance of a robust recovery during the Spring Festival holiday amid relaxed COVID-19 travel policies.
On January 27, the last day of the seven-day break, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism published an encouraging performance report of the tourism market. It said that domestic destinations and attractions received 308 million visits, up 23.1% year-on-year. The number is roughly 88.6% of that in 2019, they year before the pandemic hit.
According to the report, tourism-related revenue generated during the seven-day period was about 375.8 billion yuan ($55.41 billion), a year-on-year rise of 30%. The revenue was about 73% of that in 2019, the Ministry said.
The state of the art jewellery manufacturing plant that has been set up by international diamond and cutting company, KGK Diamonds Botswana will create over 100 jobs, of which 89 percent will be localized.
Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.
According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.
The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.
Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.
Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company‚Äôs market capitalization.
Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana. ¬†The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.