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BIH aims to deliver impact solutions

Irene Shone

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Mobile water treatment plant in Zoroga. Source:The Midweek Sun

Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is in discussions with Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) to explore the most effective business model for possible commissioning of more mobile saline water treatment technology units.

This follows the successful commissioning of a mobile saline water treatment technology unit to the residents of Zoroga village in July 2017.
CEO, Alan Boshwean says the technology is designed to treat any type of water into drinking water. It eliminates all solids, impurities, chemicals, bacteria and viruses from raw water.

So far, Botswana has not been able to sustain technologies that are able to desalinate underground water that the country mostly depends on. BIH also worked with the Embassy of Israel to Botswana to identify key strengths in clean technologies from Israel, which can lead to initiatives to forge partnerships in water and energy related technologies that best suit the local environment.

The partnership also seeks to work with local research and water quality organisations to better their products locally. The introduction, testing and further development of the technology can be used as a basis for design and implementation of local water treatment and purification centers in rural areas.“The dual water treatment system is one of the innovations that have the potential of positive national impact given that the country experiences high water stress and incidents of salinity of underground water reserves,” Boshwean says.

Double Stage Water Treatment System integrates elements of: coagulation, cyclonic separation, double stage filtration and disinfection; as well as a Reverse Osmosis System for removal of salts in Zoroga village in the Nata- Gweta area. Further efforts are underway with Hydrocon-Green, a citizen company to commission a further enhanced water treatment plant based on the use of solar power in Sojwe.

BIH is pursuing an initiative to develop solar testing and demonstration facility. The technical feasibility study of the project has made recommendations on the options for implementing the project and has also identified critical stakeholders that need to be involved for the successful implementation of the project.

Discussions with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) are ongoing with regards to grid access, and Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) from a renewable energy regulatory framework development perspective. Furthermore, BIH will work with BERA to develop programmes for capacity building, as well as to explore research and development on storage in renewables.

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‘Manufacturing holds key to economic growth’

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Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.

She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.

“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.

She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.

She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala

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MINISTER BEWAILS BAD REPAYMENT BY YOUTH

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama has told parliament his ministry continues to face challenges on the repayment of Youth Development Fund (YDF) loans.

Recently presenting the budget to Parliament, Khama said this financial year the ministry has received a total of 2582 YDF applications and approved 983of them to the value of P98 million. He said the programme attracts a high level of interest from youth but the ministry is only limited to funding a maximum of 1200 youth projects annually due to budget limitations.

“However the greatest challenge for the Fund is the repayment of the loan component by the majority of the youth businesses. The youth have advanced number of challenges for this including high rentals for operating spaces, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities,” said Tshekedi, adding that they continue to pursue beneficiaries to repay the loans.

Out of the 919 businesses funded 1058 jobs have been created. The minister highlighted that disbursements of funds will continue to be undertaken until the end of the financial year. “The YDF is currently under review in line with the pronouncement made by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in the State of the Nation Address, to improve beneficiaries through training, and encourage consortia and cooperatives,” said Tshekedi.

The ministry assists YDF beneficiaries in marketing their products and services through fairs and exhibitions. The ministry also runs entrepreneurship-training seminars for youth and in the past year 3692 young people were trained. Over 600 youth businesses attended fairs and exhibitions to market their products and services. Currently the ministry is collaborating with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), First National Bank Botswana and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) on training in entrepreneurship development and mentorship of YDF beneficiaries.

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