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Transport minister urges ICT companies to work with govt.

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Transport and Communications minister Tshenolo Mabeo has urged private companies to partner with government and channel some of their investments in ICT initiatives to grow the country’s economy.

Speaking at the Mascom Kitsong Centres awards for 2016, Mabeo said reaching out to more deserving Batswana in the ICT sector will ensure a new diversification avenue and job creation. “There are challenges in the ICT sector and those cannot be resolved soon. We need to develop quick and long term solutions that can leverage ICT in transforming this economy. What Mascom is currently doing, signifies Mascom reaching the digital divide in Botswana,” he said.

Through its Kitsong Centres initiative Mascom Botswana last week awarded 14 Batswana with fully ICT equipped porta cabins to start their businesses. The cabin comprises a computer, a fax machine and internet.  Mabeo encouraged recipients to take care of the equipment and put up security measures to avoid break-ins; as well as take advantage of the centres and find innovative ways of growing them into fully fledged and sustainable businesses.

This year’s selection saw 36 youth from various villages across the country undergoing a business management programme, and 14 were awarded from the villages/constituencies such as Palla Road, Letlhakane East, Letlhakeng West, Makopong, Tsetsebjwe, Molalatau, Matsiloje, Mathathane, Tshesebe, Artesia, Pandamatenga, Okavango and Gakgatla.

Mascom also gave out four recognition awards namely; Most Preserving; Most Potential; Most Community contributor and; the Best Centre. Mascom PR and Communications Manager, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego said these were judged on the basis of “their dedication to the business. We want to promote the spirit of hard-work and perseverance.” The recipients received P5000.00 cash each to help them improve their product and services, as well as P1000.00 worth of airtime to sell at their centres.

The Mascom Kitsong Centres initiative started five years ago as part of the government’s Nteletsa 2 project. At the time 41 centres were set-up and Mascom continued to roll-out and to date the number has grown to 94.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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