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HRDC budget balloons

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The newly established Human Resource Development Council’s (HRDC) total budget for the financial year 2014/15 has reached P82.7million. Its revenue for the 2014/15 period reached P66.2million compared to P38.8million in the previous year, Business Trends can reveal.

According to its 2014/15 financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2015, the larger part of the money for this knowledge-based organisation went to personnel emoluments and related items at P29.6million, representing 36 percent of the total budget.

HRDC is a bigger entity in terms of mandate and staff establishment and therefore had to request for more financial resources from government and other stakeholders. In particular, the significant change in the resourcing of HRDC came from the 10 percent administration fee for human resource development fund that amounted to P29million in 2014/15 financial year.

The government grant also increased from P25million in the previous year to P29million. The total budget for the year was therefore P82.7million. The report indicates that, “as a result of the ongoing transaction, a total of P9.9million was provided as restricting costs. The second major expenditure was on consultancy services, which increased from P1million to P2.7million as well as research, and development costs which increased from P0.55million in the prior financial year to P1million in the year under review. These were small grants given to Education and Training Institutions to promote research at institutional level.”

HRDC is led by Patrick Molutsi who has been acting Chief Executive Officer since its establishment from the then Tertiary Education Council (TEC) in November 2013. Molutsi is confident that their portfolio of projects will deliver value and impact the nation’s advancement into the post 50 year  period positively.

He said the journey of this transition has been a long and tedious one; and just like all journeys, “unfortunately, there have been those who were lost on the way. We are earnestly excited. This has been the awarding transition stage from which we are well placed to implement the mandate of the HRDC and impact on the quality of life of every citizen of Botswana. We are currently scaling up our operations and implementing the National Human Resource Development Strategy.”

During the year under review, the HRDC had managed to establish and strengthen close working relationships with Statistics Botswana, Bank of Botswana, British Council, Ministries of Labour and Home Affairs; Trade and Industry; and Finance and Development Planning among others. These strategic partnerships have been critical in HRDC’s successful establishment of Sector Human Resource Development Committees and their work.

The HRDC in November 2015 launched new Board of Directors, and bid farewell to the interim Board members who started the Council in 2013. Dr Kegalale Gasennelwe who then handed to Batho Chris Molomo headed the interim.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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