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.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.
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