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Shell rolls out expansion plan

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Vivo Energy Botswana is undertaking an expansion plan to offer more service and value at its service stations to meet customer needs through its new ‘Welcome’ convenience stores. The Welcome brand conveys a sense of hospitality, optimism and dynamism to meet the needs of customers. Launching the brand at Shell Marang Filling station in Francistown last week, Vivo Energy Supply and Distribution Manager, Oscar Isaacs said ‘Welcome’ offers convenience, variety and optimum satisfaction to customers, as it will have a shopping area and an eatery.

“Welcome is our very own warm modern convenience retail shop brand aimed to offer convenience, variety and optimum satisfaction to our customers. The opening of ‘Welcome’ convenience stores is a testimony to the real convenience that we want to bring to our customers,” said Isaacs. He said their objective is to bring the Shell brand closer to the people of Botswana by responding to the ever changing customer needs through providing them with high quality fuels, lubricants, shops, and other convenience retail products like quick service restaurants. Part of this objective also involves bringing new and exciting shop formats in the convenience retail space that provide customers with options and provide them with more offerings and more experiences.” Isaacs also highlighted that through the ‘Welcome’ shops, they aim to have the highest quality convenience offer in the Oil Marketing industry; through providing a superior customer service, right product range, refreshing ambiance and a high sense of professionalism.

He said the ‘Welcome’ brand shops would be rolled out to various Shell service stations across the country. Francistown City Mayor, Sylvia Muzila has applauded Vivo Energy Botswana for the new development pointing out that it brings benefits to the community as well as valuable employment opportunities to the youth in the area. “This is a very much welcome development due to job opportunities that will be availed to the youth of Francistown and surrounding areas. Developments such as this one contribute to boost the economy of the City of Francistown and in turn the country’s economy,” Muzila said.

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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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