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Fengyue plant was a disappointment- Mphathi

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The liquidation of the controversial Botswana Development Corporation’s Palapye Fengyue glass project was a disappointment for the soda ash and salt producers, Botswana Ash (Botash). 

Botash, which is currently the biggest supplier to South African market with about 60 percent, had pinned its hopes to supply Botswana’s first glass manufacturers, Fengyue glass plant in Palapye. Unfortunately, the glass project did not see the light of day and faced liquidation.

Responding to Business Trends during a press briefing this past Tuesday about looking for local markets, Botash Managing Director, Montwedi Mphathi said, “the Palapye plant was a disappointment. We had concluded that we would supply about 30 000 tonnes to them per annum.” Unfortunately the project was later said to be not viable. “We pleaded with BDC to find other alternative ways but they said the market would not survive and therefore it cannot be continued,” added Mphathi.

Afterwards, BDC engaged a glass-manufacturing consortium from UK to conduct a due diligence of the project. It advised that the project was not a viable business operation. BDC boss, Bashi Gaetsaloe once confirmed to the parliamentary statutory bodies’ committee in 2015 that, glass manufacturing in Botswana was proven to be extremely risky and unprofitable.  Meanwhile, glass production is the largest application for dense soda ash.

About half of the soda ash produced worldwide is used in the manufacture of glass. In this application, soda ash is used as a fluxing agent in that it lowers the melting temperature of the raw material – pure silica – thereby reducing energy requirements for glass production.

Container glass covers a wide range of different products that include bottles, jars and other containers. About 46percent of all glass that is manufactured is used for container glass. Flat glass accounts for 42 percent of glass production and includes items such as architectural glass, car windscreens, windows, mirrors and frames.

Other glass manufacture accounts for 12 percent of glass production and includes textile, fibre optics and insulation fibre glass. It is understood that there is currently only one flat glass manufacturer in South Africa that is Botash’ s biggest consumer of soda ash; whilst the other six are importers.

With the South African market combined with the BDC glass project, it would have been a better opportunity for Botash. Moreover, Botash sells around 20 percent of soda ash to the chemical industry sector. In this sector, both dense and light soda ash is used in large number of chemical reactions to produce inorganic or organic compounds that are in turn used in a range of different applications.

It can be used to produce sodium silicates that have a wide range of uses in the production of chemicals such as silica. It also has application in pulp and paper manufacturing.

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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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