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Orange celebrates Botswana penetration

Keikantse Lesemela

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Orange Group Chief Executive and Chairman, Stephane Richard said the group aims to be the digital partner for government to achieve economic and social development in the execution of Botswana’s Maitlamo National Policy on ICT Development

Speaking during Orange 20th anniversary celebration, Richard said digital potential still needs to be tapped in the area of e-government and local content. “There is still much to be done with regards to digital schools and digital education, and with creating stronger ecosystems for local start-up businesses, but we are making strong and continued progress,” said Richard. Orange currently operates as a mobile telephone operator in 28 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The group corporate business has a footprint of over 220 locations worldwide, with specific focus on cyber security and cloud services for businesses.

Orange is present in 20 countries and serves 120 million customers in Africa and the Middle East, with strong focus on digital transformation, Orange Money and 4G technology with more than 15m 4G customers on the African footprint

Richard highlighted that they aim to leverage the local business’ strengths and resources to offer customers an unmatched experience.“The group’s financial behaviour has become that much easier through such innovations as Orange Money with more than 40m users in Africa by end of October 2018, and in Botswana, where there are around one million mobile money users,” he said. Orange Money provides 700.000 customers with the benefits of a simple, flexible and convenient solution for payment and money transfers.

On his note, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government has committed itself towards improving other ICT sector and driving economic diversification through technology. Government has committed to funding local access network infrastructure to the value of P742, 5 million in 33 towns and villages identified in the National Broadband strategy. “Government investment will complement those from the private sector, such as Orange’s infrastructure development, which runs into millions of pula everyday. I must applaud Orange Botswana for such a commitment to our national development agenda,” said Dr Masisi.

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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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