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African Energy negotiating with BPC to connect to

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African Energy has announced that it is currently negotiating with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to use the national transmission grid. The coal mining company is currently developing an integrated coal mine as well as a 450MW power plant in eastern Botswana to export power to Zambia and neighbouring countries. African Energy Managing Director, Frazer Tabeart highlighted in a statement that dialogue continued with BPC regarding connection of Sese into the local 400kV transmission grid at Phokoje substation and use of the BPC transmission grid.

“An application for a Transmission Connection and Use of System agreement was made to Botswana Power Corporation. Preliminary discussions on the transmission/wheeling of power from Botswana through Zimbabwe and into Zambia have been held with Botswana Power Corporation and the Southern African Power Pool and are ongoing.” said Tabeart. He said technical studies for the Sese coal and power project have largely been completed to prefeasibility standard. “Detailed engineering studies and completion of a formal mine plan will be completed once commercial aspects of power wheeling and transmission have been finalised.” he said. Recently BPC launched the North West Transmission Grid Connection project, which will allow for development and expansion of commercial ventures, including mining operations into Northwest of the country.

The NWTGC is expected to provide grid access to all sectors of the economy including mining, tourism, commercial, domestic and improve electricity supply in the country. Currently BPC has signed Memorandum of Understanding with the mining company, Khoemacau to connect to the national grid. Through the project, the country aims to be energy sufficient with diversified, safe and clean energy sources, and to be a net energy exporter by 2020. In that regard, the country has embraced and supported the participation in power generation by the private sector.

However, the national power demand averages 550MW, of which the current national grid produces 450MW and150MW is imported from South Africa. African Energy also highlighted that a fully detailed application for an electricity Generation and Export License was submitted to the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority last year July and follow up meetings have been held with BERA, with more expected in the next quarter.

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the 300MW Sese Integrated Power Project has been updated for a larger project to include up to 500MW of power generation and the associated minor increase in volumes of coal mining/processing and airborne emissions. Tabeart explained that the updated document would be submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in the next quarter. African Energy is also working on a 1.25 billion tonne Mmamantswe coal project, which is 20km from the international border with South Africa and is close to the regional power transmission grid. Mmamantswe has an approved Environmental Impact Assessment for up to 10Mtpa coal mining and up to 2,000MW of power generation. The project also has an 8GL/a registered water well field at Artesia, which could provide enough water for such a project. Technical studies have demonstrated the suitability of Mmamantswe coal for processing into a fuel-powered station similar to that used in the adjacent Waterburg coalfield in South Africa.

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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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