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MAJWE MINING GETS DEBSWANA CUT 9 TENDER

Koobonye Ramokopelwa

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Rough diamond producer, Debswana has awarded Majwe Mining a multi-billion Pula tender for the company’s Cut 9 project which is expected to lengthen Jwaneng mine’s lifespan by a further 15 years, The Midweek Sun has learnt.

Debswana has made it known that investment in the project clearly shows commitment in the local diamond industry. Cut 9 comes hot on the heels of Cut 8 which also extended Jwaneng mine lifespan. Chairman of Debswana board of directors, Bruce Cleaver said the fresh capital injection into Jwaneng mine, the world’s number one rough diamond mine by value, could not have come at a better time where demand is poised to surpass supply.

“The extension of Jwaneng Mine secures Botswana’s rightful place as a leading diamond producing nation for years to come. With global consumer demand for diamonds reaching record levels in 2018, the extension will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our consumers all over the world. We are deeply proud of the central role Jwaneng Mine has played in Botswana’s remarkable development story and of the role this investment will play in its future,” said an excited Cleaver, also De Beers Chief Executive.

The project which is expected to commence anytime soon, following the 2019 budget will create more than 1,000 jobs at its peak, the majority of which will be held by Batswana. The project will cost a whopping P15, 7 billion. Debswana Managing Director, Albert Milton who is the immediate Jwaneng Mine Chief noted that they have always delivered safe projects which benefits locals.

“We are also committed to delivering on the Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) goals and will focus on training our people, developing their skills and harnessing technology to create further safety and efficiency improvements,” added Milton, who has been with Debswana for decades. Debswana is a joint venture between De Beers and Botswana government. During the course of the contract, there will be the establishment of an Apprentice and Artisan Training Centre in addition to a Component Rebuild Centre, which is expected to mature into a self-sustaining business within three years from the launch of the project.

Jwaneng is Debswana’s biggest mine by any measure. When updating stakeholders last Friday, Milton said as a result of a surge in diamond demand, the group also increased its production by 6 percent year on year to stand at 24.1 million carats.

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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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