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Kenewendo pins hope on industrial revolution

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Minister Bogolo Kenewendo Source:The Midweek Sun

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo says the fourth industrial revolution presents opportunities for countries like Botswana to deal with a number of problems, among them high levels of unemployment.

Kenewendo was speaking at the 48th St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland on the future of work, Artificial Intelligence, challenges and opportunities of job creation in the fourth industrial revolution. “We see the fourth industrial revolution as a potential, we see opportunities for us to deal with the challenges that we have not been able to deal with to date,” she told delegates at the symposium.

Kenewendo further said Botswana is readying herself to take advantage of the demographic dividend that will be presented by the growth in population in Africa. It is said that Africa will have the largest population of young people by 2100 and will contribute 80 percent of the four billion rise in global population by that time.

“This is the demographic dividend we want to harness.” She appealed to the international business community as well as young people to take advantage of opportunities that arise from industrial revolution. “We recognise that innovation and productivity are keys to unlock high growth and catapult us to even become a high income country,” Kenewendo said.

“I am inviting you to invest in Botswana and unlock the possibilities presented by the fourth industrial revolution.” Kenewendo urged those that are threatened by the digital divide to see opportunities, especially those that have been traditionally excluded and left behind. “We are all looking towards working together as government, private sector and all to ensure that the forth industrial revolution helps take us to where we want to be.”

President-Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin said at the symposium that currently, global GDP has been slowing atleast for the last 10 years, economies project 20 more years of low productivity and high unemployment especially for millennial, and in addition climate change is a real challenge.
He said to counter these challenges, world leaders need to come up with a compelling economic vision for the world. He said there is need for a game plan to deliver on that vision and it needs to be quick.

“It needs to move as quick in the developing world just as in industrialised economies,” he said, adding, “We need to step back here at St Gallen and ask the question how do we create economic paradigm shifts?” The Gallen Symposium is an intergenerational, interdisciplinary symposium that focuses on the following, individual’s response to changing technology; challenges it poses to society; business’s response and ability to create disruption through technology and the role of government in education policies and job creation. The symposium creates relevant debates between leaders of today and future leaders.

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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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