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SEZs to boost economy

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SEZs to boost economy

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) could potentially boost the national economy by facilitating export substitution, harnessing innovation and reducing dependence on the mining sector.

This is the view of Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA), ThatayaoneNdzinge.

Ndzinge believes SEZs can also generate spillover benefits to the rest of the economy, as export oriented multi-nationals will facilitate skills transfer and growth of domestic firms.

“Infrastructure developments in the SEZs will also spur regional growth and prosperity. With government support and robust private sector participation, I believe SEZs can significantly transform the economy,” said Ndzinge.

He highlighted leading economies like China, Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius, which have all experienced rapid economic growth after using tax and business incentives to attract foreign investment and technology transfer in their SEZs.

“We have started the same project in Botswana and I am proud to announce that we recently awarded a number of multi-million Pula tenders for the development of key SEZs in Botswana,” revealed Ndzinge.

In Phase I of its strategic plan, SEZA has awarded masterplan tenders for the development of the Sir SeretseKhama International Airport (SSKIA), Fairgrounds, Lobatse and Francistown SEZs.

Local engineering and contracting firm Bothakga Burrow was awarded a P100 million tender for the SSKIA-SEZ. The project includes construction of a 1.8-kilometre road into the SEZ and design of underground services like lighting, fibre, CCTV, smart city ducting and water reticulation.

Ndzinge explained that the SSKIA-SEZ has been reserved for businesses in diamond beneficiation, aviation, pharmaceuticals as well as air-related logistics and distribution.

Royal HaskoningDHV Botswana was awarded a P13.8 million tender for the Gaborone Fairgrounds SEZ and another tender worth P14.6 million for the Francistown SEZ.

Francistown has been earmarked as a freight, logistics and mineral beneficiation hub.

Lobatse, which has been zoned as a dairy and leather industry SEZ, will be developed by local firm Gabana Architects Consortium at a value of P8.5 million. Gabana Architects Consortium also won the masterplan tender for SelebiPhikwe.

Ndzinge explained that economic activities in SelebiPhikwe will include: pharmaceuticals, medical services, agro-processing and metal beneficiation.

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Business

Letlole La Rona suspends CEO

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Letlole La Rona (LLR), a property company listed on the Botswana Stock Limited (BSEL), on Tuesday moved to suspend its Chief Executive Officer, Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa.

His suspension, according to a notice to shareholders, follows preliminary findings arising from an investigation into issues relating to the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan.

Mutiswa who was appointed LLR CEO in June 2018, is said to have been suspended with full benefits pending the outcome of the full investigations.

Commenting on the latest developments, LLR Board Chairperson, Boitumelo Mogopa noted good governance remains sacrosanct to the board and all staff of the company.

“The preliminary findings of the possible misconduct arising from the investigations relate to the circumstances around the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan during or around March this year and possible acts or omissions by an individual in a unique position of power,” said Mogopa.

Mogopa said this by no means reflects the integrity of the board, financial performance and company portfolio.

“For us, it remains business as usual as the due process takes its course,” said Mogopa.

Meanwhile, the board has in the interim appointed Botshelo Mokotedi to hold the fort on an acting basis while investigations continue.

Mokotedi is seconded from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) – a major shareholder in LLR – where he is the Head of Risk.

He is described as a forward-thinking, highly motivated and results-oriented individual with more than a decade experience in the financial services sector across a variety of senior roles, including Business Development, Credit Analysis as well as Portfolio and Risk Management.

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Inflation increases in April

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Inflation increases in April

Cities and towns experience rising rates

The latest figures from Statistics Botswana (SB) show that the annual inflation rate in April registered a slight increase.

Inflation for the month stood at 2.5 percent, up 0.3 percent from the 2.2 percent recorded in March.

However, SB stressed that data collection for the month was hampered by the on-going lockdown, enforced on 3 April.

The restriction on movement meant data collection for prices was primarily conducted through emails and telephone calls.

In the end, the data collected covered only 70 percent of goods in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket.

The most affected items in the basket were alcoholic beverages and tobacco – the sale of which is temporarily suspended – and clothing and footwear, as outlets were closed during the month of April.

The closure of such shops reportedly resulted in a number of missing or unobserved prices, which were imputed through variation of the observed prices.

According to SB, the biggest contributors to the April annual inflation rate were: housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which went up by 1.1 percentage points, and food and non-alcoholic beverages, which increased by 0.4 percent.

By regions, the inflation rates between March and April indicates that cities and towns increased by 0.4 of a percentage point, rising from 2.3 percent to 2.7.

Rural villages’ rates rose from 2.0 percent to 2.3 percent while urban villages’ rates similarly registered an increase of 0.3 percentage point to 2.6 percent.

When addressing local media on Tuesday this week, the Competitions and Consumer Authority CEO, Tebelelo Pule said the Authority observed an increase in consumer good prices when the effects of Covid-19 started to be felt locally.

“Prices increased in an unusual manner which disturbed us as the Authority. On top of that, there was also a decrease in the quality of goods,” announced Pule, highlighting the example of sanitizers, which she noted were ‘manufactured by anybody’.

Pule revealed that the Authority went into shops around the country to compile a price list, which they published on their website and Facebook page to allow consumers to compare how different retail stores were pricing their goods.

The CEO cautioned that those found guilty of unfairly increasing prices face a possible five-year jail term or P100, 000 fine or even both.

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