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Botswana Oil fingers BERA in failing citizen companies

Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) has laid bare its consistent failurestoadheretoits mandateto ensure security of fuel supply and facilitating active citizen involvement in the petroleum sector.

BOL was established to among others, manage and maintain Government owned strategic storages facilities as well as ensuring meaningful participation of citizen owned oil companies in the petroleum industry.

This is contained in the companys recently released 2020/21 annual report according to which the organisation is unable to effect its mandate which is to ensure the security and efficiency of fuel supply to Botswana and promote active citizen involvement in the petroleum industry.

Responding to BOLs application, BERA took a decision to award the company only a 25 percent license instead of the original 50 percent that it had applied for. BERA explained that the decision was influenced by a new financial, technical and economic assessment in which Botswana Oil met the financial and technical aspect of the assessment.

Said the companys Board Chairman Dr. Joel Sentsho, commenting on the report: The challenges for BOL to effectively implement the mandate during the year remained, in the absence of any legislative instrument that would empower BOL to have captive import volumes.

He said the main restriction continued to be the lack of an import licence that would see BOL consolidate national volumes resulting in captive business for the Company. In the absence of the import licence the Company continued operating in a willing buyer-willing-seller environment,: he said.

Sentsho notes that: There was, however, progress towards BOLs efforts to get an import licence as Cabinet confirmed BOLs import mandate business model and approved that BOL can apply for 50% of the countrys consumption.

He said the year covered a period when the company focussed on securing an import licence which would facilitate its implementation of its mandate through the consolidation of national volumes. This season of the preparation and application for the import licence called for careful analysis, mapping, and extensive engagement of all stakeholders, which the Company achieved fully, the Board Chairman said.

Touching on the companys business model, the report says at establishment, the Deloitte Strategy that operationalised Botswana Oil Limited recommended that the Company consolidates supply volumes and does 100% importation of petroleum products into the country, in a quest to ensure national security of supply and guard the economy against supply shocks due to the lack of a limited strategic fuel storage capacity and infrastructure.

In August of 2020 Cabinet endorsed the recommendation. Due to the absence of enabling legislation for BOL to consolidate imports, the Company continues to operate on a willing-buyer-willing -seller basis. BOL currently procures approximately 10% of the market volumes, the report says.

The report adds that these volumes are, however, too low to achieve the requisite economies of scale to enhance security of supply and facilitate citizen owned companies which is the primary mandate of BOL. 90% of imports are handled by International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).

It notes that the Company has applied to BERA for an initial 50% import licence. In view of the anticipated 100% procurement mandate, BOL will not participate in the retail and commercial space, enabling the IOCs and COOCs to compete whilst BOL competes in the open market for product sourcing, says the report.

According to the report, following its unsuccessful application for an import licence, Botswana Oils business model remained the same and the Company continued to operate on a willing seller willing buyer model, adding that Sales performance for the year stood at 9% below budget.

The company said in November of 2020, it applied for a licence with the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) to import and supply up to 50% of the volume of petroleum products consumed in the Country in line with the Presidential Directive CAB 26 (A) / 2020.

The import licence will afford BOL the opportunity to effect its mandate which is to ensure the security and efficiency of fuel supply to Botswana and promote active citizen involvement in the petroleum industry, the report says.

The company says as a wholesale importer, the opportunity exists for it to increase volumes and percentage imports into the country by the supply and distribution of fuel to major consumers.


People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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