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Matambo projects strong economic recovery

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The country’s economy will accelerate by more than five percent this year, backed by strong recovery of the mining and non-mining sectors, Finance and Economic Development minister, Kenneth Matambo told legislators on Monday. Presenting the 2018/19 budget speech, the finance minister said the country’s growth of 5.3 percent in 2018, will be boosted by global economic recovery which always works in favour of the country’s mining sector, especially diamonds. On the surface, it will seem diamonds’ recovery is being sustained since last year as evidenced by good sales.

De Beers, a company owned jointly by Botswana Government and Anglo American, has seen its first sales of 2018 jumping to $665 million (about P6, 65 billion). Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Following positive early signs for diamond jewellery sales over the holiday season in the US, the need for the industry to restock led to increasing demand for our rough diamonds in the first sales cycle of 2018.

“This seasonal restocking demand does usually see a larger share of annual purchases being planned into the first sales cycle of the year by our customers, resulting in an encouraging sales performance”. Diamonds remain the country’s biggest export revenue earner by far, in the process contributing more to the country’s treasury. Matambo, whose term as finance minister is expected to lapse just before general elections next year, told the national assembly that, non-mining sector’s expected robust growth will be lifted by government’s interventions in terms of policies and strategies meant to diversify the economy. Impacts of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) are expected to be felt across the economy in the short to medium term.

The ESP was launched some three years ago to jack up the economy by investing in high-return projects across all sectors. While the minister is bullish of the year ahead, Economic Research Manager at First National Bank (FNB) Botswana, Moatlhodi Sebabole is less buoyant. “As FNBB, we forecast a growth rate of 1.7 percent for 2017 and 3.2 percent for 2018 – way below the forecasts by the finance ministry,” he told Botswana Guardian last week.

“We are cautiously optimistic in our growth estimates due to the structural make-up of the economy which remains mineral-led and has limited multiplier effect on employment creation and enhanced productivity”. Meanwhile, Matambo said more efforts would be channeled towards economic diversification, which includes improving ease of doing business and the development and maintenance of economic infrastructure. “With regard to the ease of doing business, Government remains committed to improving the country’s ranking as it affects its ability to attract foreign direct investment, which is necessary for growth and economic diversification,” stated Matambo.

As far as development of economic infrastructure is concerned, government will spend a significant amount of the 2018/19 budget in funding energy, water and information and technology infrastructure.

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OLOPENG HEAPS PRAISE ON BSE FINANCE CHALLENGE

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Minister Thapelo Olopeng

Botswana Stock Exchange’s annual finance and investment competition for secondary school students has been applauded by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng.

The initiative, a capital market awareness tool that has been running for the past seven years, is increasing financial literacy and a culture of investment among young people. The initiative will see the country raise future billionaires through the stock markets. “It is a breath of fresh air to have tertiary students who are financially literate, who can manage their finances,” said the minister.

He urged students to invest even the smallest allowances they earn and have a hassle-free life after university. “Investing on the stock exchange is not only preserved for the rich, but for anyone with a bank account,” said Olopeng.

The minister said the secondary schools finance and investment competition is participation of the private sector in bridging the knowledge divide.Olopeng said the private sector participation augments his ministry’s efforts of providing and building knowledge and innovation through the development and implementation of the policy on tertiary education, research, science and technology to transform the economy from a resource based to a knowledge based.

“In this connection, we will continue to empower our students in order for them to lead better and successful lives which can propel them into the innovation ecosystem,” said Olopeng. BSE Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole said the Senior Secondary Schools Finance and Investment Competition, first established in 2013 aims to sensitise and educate the student community about capital markets, with the strategic aim to increase financial literacy and promote a culture of investing at a young age.

The competition is open to all senior secondary schools across the country, including private and public senior secondary schools.

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WE ARE NOT USING DIAMONDS TO KILL ELEPHANTS, THAT’S HOGWASH! – BOTSWANA MINISTER

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Orapa Mine, part of Debswana

Botswana is not using diamonds to kill elephants as alleged by some conservationists after the southern African country announced plans to lift a ban on elephant hunting to address growing conflict between humans and wildlife, a government official has said.

Minister of mineral resources, Green technology and energy security Eric Molale told a mining conference in Gaborone on Monday that the activists were tarnishing the image of Botswana. “That’s hogwash because we as Botswana are [good] conservationists and it is us who worked hard to make sure these elephants [are] brought to the numbers that we do have now,” he said.

“When conflicts arise, it is through consultation, [that we] find out how we can best manage our resources. The people have spoken and we are going to be managing the elephants in the best way that we can.

“We are not culling, we have re-introduced the trophy hunting and if you take 400 elephants per annum for trophy hunting against the 3-5% annual growth rate of the elephant herd that we have…[we are] just barely scratching on the surface.”

Botswana has about 130 000 elephants, the world’s largest population.Molale said Botswana will remain focused on things that are beneficial to the country and will not be distracted by issues spread by people that are not even privy to how things are done in the country.

“We have, however, invited them to come and learn more about what we are doing so they can better understand those important aspects of flora and fauna…”The conflict between humans and elephants had gone up since the ban was introduced in 2014.

Tourism is the second source of foreign income in Botswana after diamonds and conservationists fear that the former will be affected is the government cull elephant.
[Rough and Polished]

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