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BIH, IBM train local programmers

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In its drive to promote local technology innovations, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) in partnership with International Business Machines (IBM) trained local programmers on the new Bluemix cloud platform that allows users to create new applications. Speaking during the IBM Bluemix workshop on Monday, IBM Client Technical Advisor, Pelani Malangi said Bluemix platform integrates high performance cloud infrastructure.

“BlueMix cloud resources bring together multiple data sources, scale systems and incorporate cognitive services to drive business value quickly at low costs,” said Malangi. He explained that the IBM BlueMix platform integrates high-performance cloud infrastructure and cutting-edge services into the IT environment. Malangi also urged the participants to utilise the platform to develop applications for local organisations.

“Each and every organisation or company needs an application to run its business, so this platform is an opportunity for developers and programmers to bring solutions to the business community,” he said. BIH ICT and Marketing Director Tshepo Tsheko said the workshop would help increase competitiveness of ICT industry by promotion of technology transfer and creation of new business opportunities.

He said the use of Bluemix platform will include integrated DevOps to build, run, deploy and manage applications on the cloud. “The IBM BlueMix platform integrates high-performance cloud infrastructure and cutting-edge services into the IT environment,” said Tsheko. Tsheko said through its ICT Cluster BIH aims to increase the competitiveness of ICT industry by supporting local ICT SME growth, promotion of technology transfer and Innovations and creation of new business opportunities through cross-border, cross-industry and cross-cluster collaboration using ICT as an enabler.

The cluster offers an open community workspace where innovation, technology, entrepreneurship and investment exist to facilitate the development and growth of innovative technology ideas that will ultimately bear social and economic benefits to Botswana, regionally and internationally.

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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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