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First local mobile game coming this October

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Botswana’s first mobile game is expected to be released next month, a start to an anticipated exponential growth of the industry. Though mobile game industry has been growing in some African countries such as Kenya and South Africa, local innovators, animators, script writers and developers are yet to fully jump on the bandwagon.

With over 50 mobile games already produced in Africa, local company Bantu Vision Productions has developed the country’s first mobile game – Free Range, a 3D endless runner mobile game. “Our ultimate goal is to build this industry, it is non-existing in Botswana. We want to show the world that we are ready,” said Richmond Kato Mouti, Bantu Vision Co-Founder and Managing Director, highlighting that most people have ignored mobile game industry, affectionately referred to as dipopae in local lingo.

However, other countries are moving ahead, South African game development industry has seen some staggering growth, in the last few years with titles making waves on the international gaming scene. “We have the resources – talent and skills,” said Mouti, oozing with confidence that mobile games have potential to prop up the local economy, currently making widespread efforts to diversify from diamonds.

As pioneers of the local mobile gaming industry, Mouti highlights that financial challenges has slowed down their pace. Mouti believes a well funded mobile game development should take four months. “Ours has been delayed by painful speed humps that we get along the way,” said Mouti, highlighting that Free Range game concept started last year, and coming up with an original African concept was a challenge.

Mouti believes Africa has a lot more to offer to the international market through mobile games.“The world has used up, all the concepts in the mobile gaming industry, except for the African story. There is hunger for the African content. “We (mobile game developers) are not exposing Africa and the world is hungry for the continent,” said Mouti emphasizing mobile game market is international and not limited to local.

His sentiments were also shared by Free Range scriptwriter Serena Serene Mmifinyana who believes the game has potential to reach a different audience. “The game has a lot of life, captures a lot of landscape. We were looking for something authentic,” said Mmifinyana.

The launch of Free Range is expected next month for free on iOS, Android and Windows; it will also be accompanied by an animated cartoon series. Meanwhile the company has also teamed up with eBotswana to produce an animation for children titled Zed the Zebra.

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LEA partners with Ministry for youth businesses

Keikantse Lesemela

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Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, (MYESCD) has partnered with the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to create a pool of competitive and sustainable youth businesses.

Through the partnership, business management and mentoring services will be provided to the Youth Development Fund (YDF) beneficiaries to enhance their efficiency and capacity to manage and sustain their businesses.Speaking during the signing ceremony MYESCD Deputy Permanent Secretary, Kago Ramokate said the ministry has always had a challenge with lack of expertise mentorship to young entrepreneurs so partnership with LEA will assist the ministry to effectively deliver its mandate.

“Training and mentorship has been a challenge for us because our officers mostly do not have business background so this partnership will address this,” said Ramokate.In his remarks, LEA Chief Executive, Racious Moatshe said the partnership is paramount to achieve government initiative of creating a pool of competitive and sustainable Small Medium and Micro Enterprises that will significantly contribute towards the diversification of the economy. It is also expected to meaningfully impact local communities through employment creation and import substitution.

“We want to ensure that youth businesses are run properly with proper funding. Both institutions will jointly conduct research that has direct impact on scaling up of youth owned businesses in Botswana,” said Moatshe.

He said over 2 500 youth businesses have received LEA intervention. “We want to see more youth businesses succeed”. Meanwhile, the ministry has been urged to come up with a better strategy to effectively deliver the YDF program and produce successful youth businesses. According to the Auditor General’s report for the past year, Pulane Letebele pointed out that the operation of the fund was highly unsatisfactory because of lack of proper monitoring and mentoring of the beneficiaries, financed from the Fund on a 50 percent grant 50 percent loan basis.

The Auditor General complained that two years after the Public Accounts Committee called for a stream lining of the Fund’s accounting system to allow for proper debtor accounting, nothing has been done.The 2015 Auditor General’s report has revealed that all five regions that had been selected for audits during the year show that the fund has failed. “In Maun about P20 million was disbursed in loans and only P400 000 has been paid while P640 000 was the total of arrears covering the entire period from inception of the fund in 2009,” reads the report.

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Ex Debswana boss counsels graduates

Keikantse Lesemela

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Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) on Saturday, former Managing Director of Debswana, Balisi Bonyongo said graduates and citizens need to position themselves to develop a clear technology and innovation strategy and roadmap that would enable the nation’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy.

“We need to create an entrepreneurship centre that would bring industry and the college together, to form a powerful force that would co-create breakthrough solutions capable of diversifying our country’s economy,” said Bonyongo.

The college released 645 graduates from different fields on Saturday. Since inception 22 years ago over 11 000 professionals graduated from the school. Bonyongo highlighted that graduates should approach problems creatively to provide sustainable, scalable and exponential solutions that could yield tremendous economic value.

“I urge all graduates to leverage technology and innovation to deliver practical solutions to society’s most urgent problems. Use your qualifications to seize opportunities to do what you love and enjoy,” said Bonyongo.

BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu said between 2017 and 2018 they have experienced growth in the number of new students both full time and part time. “This mark of quality has inspired us to spread our wings and expand into other markets through various collaboration models,” she said.

Leburu revealed that they are currently in the process to introduce online learning to effectively support part-time students as well as provide some programs digitally. The college has partnered with several international universities including, University of Derby, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sunderland and SAP University Alliance as well as Microsoft and the Cisco Academy.

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