Business Botswana media sector committee has motivated the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration through the Office of the President to introduce a media levy in Botswana.
The proposal which was routed through government’s spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay sometime in October 2015, will amongst other things promote, sponsor, authorise, manage, control or cause to be arranged, organised, conducted, authorised or commissioned, the obtaining of all kinds of advertising research, media audience research, surveys, investigations and reports.
It will further publish media audience and product/brand research for the benefit of all stakeholders.Moreover, the levy will also assist in training for the industry, advocacy and awareness raising.
It is also expected to fund the Advertising Standards Authority, which would be a self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in Botswana. Its role would be to regulate the content of advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing in Botswana by investigating complaints made about adverts, sales promotions or direct marketing, and deciding whether such advertising complies with its advertising standards codes.
The proposal was prepared by Thabo Majola, Vice Chairperson Business Botswana Media Sector.
Speaking to Midweek Sun recently, Dr Jeff Ramsay said that government welcomes the proposal. “There has been a discussion on such a concept for many years and this has come at a good time. We believe it will shape and develop the local media industry further. It is part of the High Level Consultative Council and it has to go through other stages until the final full report is given to the Minister,” said Ramsay.
Majola told The Midweek Sun that the stakeholders are still discussing the modalities and details of the levy. “We are hoping that the levy will be introduced this year if things go as anticipated,” he added.
The proposal indicates that there is need in Botswana to have comprehensive, unbiased, reliable, regular and technically excellent survey. “Its purpose would be to provide data about the use of the mass media, and the consumption of products and services by users of the mass media.
The research data produced has to be comprehensive enough so that it could be used for target marketing and aid advertisers, and their advertising agencies in taking decisions about the selection of media for their advertising campaigns. Media owners have to be able to use the data to market their media, and for strategic editorial and programme planning,” reads part of the proposal.
There have in the past been attempts to report on the readership of newspapers and magazines and listenership of radio stations by way of surveys, which were commissioned by publishers themselves and BOCRA to large extent.
According to the proposal, “In order to best meet the requirements of users, it’s important that we conduct research that is jointly controlled by the advertisers, the advertising agencies and media owners. This would ensure complete acceptance of the survey data because it’s planning would be conducted impartially, and all interested parties would supervise the field work and report production.”
The proposed structure
An institute or Foundation needs to be set up. Proposed names are the Media Research Institute/Foundation.
The proposal is to then appoint Board of directors representing all interested stakeholders under the Business Botswana Media Sector and representatives from the Government. The board will be responsible for playing the oversight role and ensuring that all research is conducted and service providers are appointed in clear and transparent manner.
It will be the responsibility of the Executive Director and the board to approve the Institute or Foundation’s strategy and staffing requirements. The main mandate will be to ensure that the general public has access to proper research statistics and for the collection of the Levy from the various media houses.
How will the Media Research Institute/Foundation be funded?
The collection of the levy should be straight forward process. The funds will be collected by media owners on behalf of the industry. The proposal is to charge 1.5 percent levy on all advertising placed in Botswana.
The levy is calculated after all discounts and agency commissions have been deducted. The levy should be remitted on monthly basis. This can be discussed and agreed upon by all the members of the Business Botswana media sector.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
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.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
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.