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Kasane Airport to enhance tourism, trade, investment

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The recently launched complimentary Wi-Fi access at all Botswana international airports is expected to close the gap that existed as a result of lack of free internet service. The project, a brainchild of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) in collaboration with Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINET), was launched at the occasion of the Civic Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) official opening of the Kasane International Airport last week in Kasane.

Visitors coming into Botswana either on business or pleasure will now enjoy free internet access at these airports; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Francistown International Airport, Kasane International Airport and Maun International Airport. According to Director of Corporate Communications, Kutlo Moagi, in their efforts to bridge the gap, in addition to the collaboration with BOFINET, BITC engaged a local service provider, MetroTech to provide internet services for all the four airports. Moagi said the project is part of improving broadband connectivity and in keeping up with global trends.

“As you are aware, access to internet or connectivity is an enabler for doing business,” she said. She added that as part of improving “our ease of doing business and to remain globally competitive as a country, it is imperative that we continually strive to eliminate all impediments to doing business.” As part of accessing complimentary internet services, users will be required to answer some basic questions relating to their experience with immigration as well as the purpose of their visit into Botswana.

In this way BITC believes that they will further gauge the quality of service standards at all points of entry. Phuthego Chere of MetroTech, the local IT Company that provides a portfolio of internet services concurs that this service will go a long way in enhancing a travelers’ experience. He said prior to this arrangement, the lack of free internet accessibility in airports was frustrating for travellers. “Upon arrival the modern traveller wants to establish contact and even make accommodation arrangement, if they were unable to do so earlier, and this Wi-Fi access will alleviate frustrations associated with such,” Chere said in an interview. Chere said the service allows users to answer direct questions that will yield valuable feedback, which would help improve on challenging areas going forward. MetroTech specialises in internet services for home and business, networking solutions, cyber security and networking, peripherals store.

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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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