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Lehutso soaring Mascom Kitsong Centre in Kopong

Tshepo Kehemile

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Kopong based Bachelor of Science (BSC) in Software Engineering with Multimedia graduate, Sethamiso Derrick Lehutso says running the affairs of the Mascom Kitsong Centre in Kopong has been a wonderful experience as they are constantly making progress in terms of liberating the residents of Kopong with Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Lehutso told Business Trends that he was fortunate to be chosen by Mascom to conduct this precious project but admitted it not to be an easy route, “Initially, Mascom published that they needed someone to run the Mascom Kitsong Centre which was to be started in Kopong, and then I applied and got selected. However, all the applicants who got the nod ahead of others went for a training competition and that was when I emerged victorious eventually,” he said.

He further says it is now under a year since the inception of the Centre and there has been a huge progress, “The mandate of the Kitsong Centre is not to do things for Mascom only but to inform, educate and create awareness on ICT, which has been a nagging issue in the past years.”

Sharing light to Business Trends, Lehutso says they have managed to teach few individuals who include the village authorities like Dikgosi (Chiefs) on how to use computers, “We have now enhanced the Chiefs’ computer literacy and they are impressed with this initiative, in addition, every activity that we conduct they sanction it as a way of showing support to what we are doing.

We have imparted Molefe Primary School teachers with how best to use Microsoft word, Excel and PowerPoint and this has been a great success. Furthermore, we have designed a new logo for Letsholo Primary School in the village,” Lehutso explained.

Quizzed about the response of the community at large, Lehutso said, “The people of Kopong have responded well to the Centre as it is proved by a massive showing in the activities that we hold, for instance, we once held a wellness day at Kopong United ground under the theme; Wellness and Technology and they came out in large numbers as they appreciated the significance of staying healthy,” he said.

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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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