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Change business focus-Business Botswana chief

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The current economic climate of soft commodity prices provides an opportune time for the government and stakeholders to change their business focus.

It adds impetus for Botswana to reform the business environment and usher in a dynamic, resilient, globally competitive and diversified private sector,” Leta Mosienyane, President of Business Botswana said during the De Beers and Chatham House conference  in Gaborone. It was held under the theme: Connecting Resources and Society in Botswana.

“Therefore any support to the business sector should focus on reforms that will improve the business environment especially in the areas where we are lagging behind,” urged Mosienyane, singling out delays in issuing out investments permits and work permits, which have also been identified in the latest World Bank ‘doing business’ report.

Mosienyane also challenged the private sector to continue negotiating with the government in attracting global talent. “Investors, both domestic and foreign, need certainty and predictability in order to plan their operations. It is important once again, for the private sector to continue to engage the government to ensure that a transparent, predictable and objective system for recruiting global talent is put in place,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, University of Botswana economics senior lecturer, Malebogo Bakwena, called on policy makers to set up targets and time frames when formulating and implementing government programmes so that they will be able to measure their success. She said at times some national programmes were made without set out and stipulated timeframes, making it difficult to measure their achievements.

“We need to set time and specific targets when implementing plans. The policy makers should ask themselves what the target is. For example in the manufacturing sector, what is the target growth, like for example one percent every year or 0, 5 percent every year rather than just saying we want to stimulate the manufacturing sector,” said Bakwena.

Bakwena also said Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should try to build partnerships with established companies so that they will be able to develop into big companies. “Collaboration is also important because it can assist the SMEs to penetrate the international market,” she said. Bakwena said some SMEs in other countries were able to compete globally through forging alliances with big companies.

“For example the Mauritius textile industry networked and forged alliances with foreign companies and through that they were able to compete globally,” said Bakwena. Mosienyane used the opportunity to urge government to speed up the privatisation of parastatals, lamenting that the process remains painfully slow.

“But we are hopeful that the Initial Public Offering of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) will finally take place before the end of the year. The IPO has been postponed on several occasions and therefore risks undermining our credibility in the investment community,” said Mosienyane.

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OLOPENG HEAPS PRAISE ON BSE FINANCE CHALLENGE

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Minister Thapelo Olopeng

Botswana Stock Exchange’s annual finance and investment competition for secondary school students has been applauded by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng.

The initiative, a capital market awareness tool that has been running for the past seven years, is increasing financial literacy and a culture of investment among young people. The initiative will see the country raise future billionaires through the stock markets. “It is a breath of fresh air to have tertiary students who are financially literate, who can manage their finances,” said the minister.

He urged students to invest even the smallest allowances they earn and have a hassle-free life after university. “Investing on the stock exchange is not only preserved for the rich, but for anyone with a bank account,” said Olopeng.

The minister said the secondary schools finance and investment competition is participation of the private sector in bridging the knowledge divide.Olopeng said the private sector participation augments his ministry’s efforts of providing and building knowledge and innovation through the development and implementation of the policy on tertiary education, research, science and technology to transform the economy from a resource based to a knowledge based.

“In this connection, we will continue to empower our students in order for them to lead better and successful lives which can propel them into the innovation ecosystem,” said Olopeng. BSE Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole said the Senior Secondary Schools Finance and Investment Competition, first established in 2013 aims to sensitise and educate the student community about capital markets, with the strategic aim to increase financial literacy and promote a culture of investing at a young age.

The competition is open to all senior secondary schools across the country, including private and public senior secondary schools.

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WE ARE NOT USING DIAMONDS TO KILL ELEPHANTS, THAT’S HOGWASH! – BOTSWANA MINISTER

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Orapa Mine, part of Debswana

Botswana is not using diamonds to kill elephants as alleged by some conservationists after the southern African country announced plans to lift a ban on elephant hunting to address growing conflict between humans and wildlife, a government official has said.

Minister of mineral resources, Green technology and energy security Eric Molale told a mining conference in Gaborone on Monday that the activists were tarnishing the image of Botswana. “That’s hogwash because we as Botswana are [good] conservationists and it is us who worked hard to make sure these elephants [are] brought to the numbers that we do have now,” he said.

“When conflicts arise, it is through consultation, [that we] find out how we can best manage our resources. The people have spoken and we are going to be managing the elephants in the best way that we can.

“We are not culling, we have re-introduced the trophy hunting and if you take 400 elephants per annum for trophy hunting against the 3-5% annual growth rate of the elephant herd that we have…[we are] just barely scratching on the surface.”

Botswana has about 130 000 elephants, the world’s largest population.Molale said Botswana will remain focused on things that are beneficial to the country and will not be distracted by issues spread by people that are not even privy to how things are done in the country.

“We have, however, invited them to come and learn more about what we are doing so they can better understand those important aspects of flora and fauna…”The conflict between humans and elephants had gone up since the ban was introduced in 2014.

Tourism is the second source of foreign income in Botswana after diamonds and conservationists fear that the former will be affected is the government cull elephant.
[Rough and Polished]

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