Botswana Buildings Society Limited has become the first company to register shares on the BSEL’s Serala board.A thrilled Managing Director of BBS, Pius Molefe told attendants of the listing ceremony on Wednesday that the registration on the Board allows existing shareholders to be able to sell their shares to those who did not previously own them.
The listing will also raise the company’s regional profile, improve the share liquidity as well as allow shareholders to determine the market value of shareholders’ investments. According to the BSE, the OTC Serala board ‘facilitates the secondary trading of shares in companies who list not to raise capital but to familarise themselves with the stock exchange’. BBS debuted at P1, 20 per share this Monday.
According to Molefe, who has been the Managing Director since the days when BBS was still a building society, said listing on Serala platform also signals intention to existing players on what kind of animal they will be once they are granted a commercial banking licence.
“The Company intends to apply for a banking licence in terms of Section 6 of the Banking Act. If the licence is granted, the Company will be the first bank in Botswana to be majority owned and controlled by citizens of Botswana, giving it a competitive advantage to be able to craft and create bespoke tailored products suitable to the unique needs and requirements of Botswana and Batswana,” BBS told shareholders this week.
Molefe said BBS will be able to migrate to the BSE main board within two years of operating as a commercial bank. The Botswana Stock Exchange CEO, Thapelo Tsheole has applauded BBS for having found it fitting to register with the bourse. He urged the company to migrate to the main board in due course, which offers even more opportunities such as capital raising and reputation.
“The BBS shares will trade like any other. However, they will have limited compliance requirements,” said Tsheole. BBS Limited was established as a building society under the Building Societies Act, in December 1976 primarily to be involved in property finance and the provision of services in connection therewith. Its philosophy was the provision of affordable property finance and attractive investment returns through the efficient utilisation of resources in the spirit of teamwork for the benefit of all stakeholders.
BBS continues to operate in a niche market of mortgage lending in Botswana where it has a substantial presence.It has nine branches in Botswana, split into three branches in Gaborone, and one in Lobatse, Serowe, Selibe Phikwe, Francistown, Maun and Kasane.
Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has submitted names of its new board of directors to Non Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) for vetting.
BSEL Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole without divulging the names of the incoming board, said the regulator is set to conclude the process by end of September. BSEL is regulated under NBFIRA “Eight are independent and two are non-independent,” said Tsheole highlighting that the development is part of reengineering BSEL, now a public company.
Tsheole is one of the non-independent directors by virtue of being the exchange’s CEO and the other non-independent director is a broker.He said once the new board is approved by the regulator, BSEL will revisit its strategy to incorporate the aspect of corporatization.“Our target is to move fast past the strategy post demutualization,” said Tsheole who is upbeat of the recent demutualization.
“The good thing is that it (demutualization) opens up to a lot of opportunities of companies that want to list on demutualised bourse,” said Tsheole at the sidelines of the 4th opening bell ceremony at BSEL headquarters in Gaborone.BSEL joins 28 other stock exchanges across the globe that has undergone the process.On operations, Tsheole said the exchange continues with a lean workforce and more efforts will be on business development initiatives, to improve both equity on the bourse and profits for BSEL.
Tsheole also highlighted that two or more listings should be expected on the bourse before the year end, while Botswana Building Society (BBS) has started trading this week, registered on the Serala over the counter (OTC) board, where its stock is currently traded amongst limited
The President of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)Botswana, Ookeditse Kamau said there is lack of compliance of ICT Regulations by organizations in Botswana and this is evidenced by electronic communications messages which do not have an opt out option.
“The lack of compliance is seen even on basic requirements such as unsolicited online marketing outlined in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2014 that requires marketers to give consumers an opt out option at the end of each sms or email sent. We receive marketing smses and emails from established organisations without opt out options.” Kamau said, adding that another example where there is lack of interest is on the Electronic Records and Evidence Act of 2014.
Support for harmonisation of the ICT policies in Sub-Saharan Africa (HIPSSA) project was launched in 2008. The project recommended three model laws referred to as SADC model laws to enhance the use of ICT while protecting consumers and corporates. A decade later the last of the three laws namely the Data Protection Act of 2017 was enacted in August 2018.The Act’s purpose was to enhance reliability of information processed by certifying the systems.
Kamau pointed out that it can be argued that Botswana has made progress in regulating the use of ICT from a legislation point of view. “To date there is no certified system in Botswana in accordance with this Act. The Act is not mandatory but was meant to give systems some value similar to that of “ISO”. The fact that we don’t see organisations showing interest in certifying their systems show the infant maturity level in the ICT sector.” she said.
Kamau argued that the biggest challenge is how the country enforces implementation and monitoring compliance in organisations. “Who is failing to bring ICT regulations to the boardrooms? As long as there is limited implementation of ICT legislations and or regulations we will continue to see adoption of unsecured systems and violation of consumer rights,” pointed Kamau.
Meanwhile, Public Telecommunications Company Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Chairperson, Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana recently stated that advances in technology are impacting the ICT sector and continues to impact the market structure and competition dynamics. “The regulatory environment has to adapt and adopt to the landscape to enable a conducive environment for all operators to do business,” said Boakgomo-Ntakhwana
She said there is pressure for operators to reduce tariffs and they continue to advocate for a regulatory framework, which helps to bring about efficiencies that will help in tariff reductions and product innovation and sustainability. “We therefore continue to keep an eye on regulatory developments and look for opportunities to contribute to changing the regulatory landscape. We do our utmost to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements and engage with all our regulatory bodies on a regular basis,” she said.
Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) introduced ICT licensing framework in 2015 and the framework seeks to create an environment of unprecedented innovation and market growth in the areas of mobile telephony, broadband, electronic social media services and other ICT enabled services.
Recently, addressing participants during the 2018 ISACA Botswana annual conference, (ISACA) Tanzania, President Kenneth Wakata said greater reliance on e-commerce creates significant opportunities, but lack of security and trust remains a critical barrier to online transactions.
“An adequate and supportive legal environment is essential to create trust online and to secure electronic interactions between enterprises, consumers and public authorities. Again these laws and legislation embrace the principles of technology neutrality, non-discrimination of electronic communications and functional equivalence.But three main issues remain,” said Wakata.
An uproar over the alleged poaching which resulted in the slaughter of close to 90 elephants has been linked to a political standoff between former President Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi.The main idea, it’s being said, is to discredit Masisi’s administration. The once close buddies- Khama and President Mokgweetsi Masisi - are said to have had a fall out after Masisi assumed the high office in April this year and started reversing some of Khama’s policies and decisions.
Masisi has also denied Khama access to do as he pleases. Recently attempts by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Council of Elders to reconcile the duo hit a snag. Reports by conservationists that almost 90 elephants were found dead near a wildlife sanctuary in Northern Botswana, have been dismissed by government as false, but have also raised eyebrows regarding the leaking of the information to international media.
Workers from Elephants Without Borders (EWB) have carried out an aerial survey, which found that 87 elephants have been killed for their tusks in the area, with most of the deaths happening just weeks ago. Dr. Mike Chase of EWB told the BBC: “I’m shocked, I’m completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date.
“When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of fresh poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa”. When the news broke out on Tuesday this week Masisi’s administration bore the worst attack from international groups and organisations who stated that Khama was doing a better job than Masisi with others referring to him as “your new man”.
Dr. Chase said there have been warnings of an impending poaching problem and the country was prepared for it. “The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it is open season for poachers. Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey.”
The debate around the issue heated up when Thea Khama, wife to Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama, who is also former President Ian Khama’s younger brother, added her voice to the debate on social media.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions. While we promote trade and cultural tourism with China and the world at large, all is lost without the flora and fauna of our eco-systems.
We have built a strong industry and reputation in photographic safaris that generate capital for the Botswana economy. “This can still be further exploited for the benefit of Batswana in the wake of the diamond industry scaling down and moving to sell out to synthetics. The last great haven for keystone species is now under our watch and in our lifetime under serious attack.
How to help? “Put pressure to the Botswana government to re-arm its Wildlife Department, cultivate cultural tourism projects that help communities live safely with the predators, and large keystone species in their areas and educate and make money for the communities so they can learn to protect and value the world’s wildlife populations, create awareness campaigns, educate yourself what happens when we lose our keystone species, lions, elephants, rhinos, whales, wolves, etc from the food chain”.
This was perceived by many as a direct attack on President Masisi by a Khama relative after Masisi ordered the withdrawal of weapons from the department of wildlife sometimes in May this year. Thea’s comment attracted a lot of attention from people most of whom condemned the government for disarming the wildlife department. The debate was later joined by UK Prime Minister Theresa May who said she was saddened to see elephants targeted by poachers. “The UK will continue to work with Botswana who have a long and successful conservation programme.
We are leading the fight on wildlife crime and I look forward to hosting the End Wildlife Crime Summit in London next month,” said the Prime Minister. Government has however refuted the claims indicating that the statistics were “false and misleading”. A statement from Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka indicated that that EWB had counted 53 carcasses in their survey and that most of the animals had died of “natural causes”.
He stressed that the increase in poaching was not due to the decision to withdraw weapons from Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and such a withdrawal has not created any vacuum in anti-poaching operations.
“The fact of the matter is that the withdrawal of such weapons from DWNP did not in any way affect the effectiveness and operations of the anti-poaching unit.
The government of Botswana wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible attempts by individuals or groups who give a false impression that they love Botswana wildlife more than citizens of Botswana,” he said.Thea indicated on her social media page that no one is trying to discredit any person. “But I see a lot of attack on my husband and myself for no reason.
Nobody said anything about President Masisi. Yes, China is associated to poaching. Yes, the APU in Bots is disarmed by the OP, the news ran previously locally but most people pay more attention when it hits international papers……the reason you never saw it was because the international media did not pick it up back then. “How many times have the media outfits tried to discredit heads of states around the world and in Botswana? What is freedom of speech when only one point of view thinks it is allowed to speak,” she posted.
President Masisi has travelled to China on an official trip where China announced that it would assist African countries, Botswana included, with funds for infrastructure development. Efforts to speak to Dr Chase were futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered and did not respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him. But in an interview with National Geographic Dr Chase stood by his numbers: “I am an objective scientist, with no political agenda.
I am sad that our government has responded in this way”. Dr Chase stated that there is a GPS location for each of the 87 carcasses and that there are multiple witnesses who saw each one. He explained that every flight has four people, including one government employee, and novice recordings from the flights will bear out these findings.
Minister Khama also could not be reached for comment even at 2100hrs on Wednesday when he had promised to be available. The minister also did not respond to WhatsApp messages that were sent to him regarding this matter. Vice President whom at press time was Acting President Slumber Tsogwane, said he is not aware that the BBC story has sparked a heated debate on social media.
Tsogwane who is also BDP Chairman, told this publication that he is only aware of the rebuttal of the BBC story by the Tourism Ministry which also aired on government media.“I would not be in a position to say anything because I haven’t been to social media. I do not know what is being said there.
I have also not been briefed by officials of the matter trending on social media and our government under the leadership of President Masisi being discredited. I would have to first find out from our officials who handle our media and social media platforms so that I could make a determination,” said Tsogwane on Wednesday.
A dark cloud hangs over Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) former President Andrew Motsamai over a P43 million counter-claim by his former employer Babereki Investment after he failed to file opposing papers.Motsamai, who is also a former Executive Chairman of Babereki Investment, had slapped his former employer with a demand letter for more than P2.1million payment and interest at the rate of 10 percent. Babereki Investment would later issue a more than P43million counter-claim.
Motsamai has so far been paid more than P1, 2 million by his former employer following the termination of his contract last year. Motsamai has been accused of contravening Section 127 of the Companies Act during the period of December 2016 and before by overriding the decisions of Babereki Investment as he allegedly acted without the approval of the Board in respect of various transactions that Babereki Investment engaged in with third parties.
It emerged this Wednesday before Justice Abednego Tafa of Lobatse High Court that Motsamai through his lawyer Gabriel Kanjabanga of Kanjabanga and Associates, has not filed papers opposing the counter- claim by Babereki Investment. Dutch Leburu of Monthe Marumo and Company representing Babereki Investment indicated that when the court considers their counter-claim it should take into consideration that Motsamai had failed to file opposition of the counter-claim.
Kanjabanga told the court that there are valid reasons for not filing the opposition of counter-claim. He revealed that the papers were not filed because they have filed an application before court citing the counter-claim by Babereki Investment as irregular and improper. In the application Motsamai wants the counter claim to be set aside.
“I seek an order setting aside the respondent’s (Babereki Investment) counter claim on the basis that it constitutes an irregular and improper step contrary to the peremptory requirements of Section 75, 79 and 81 of the Employment Act. The respondent does not dispute my main claim. In terms of their plea, they have only taken issue with the quantum thereof.
If the dispute narrows down to quantum, it would be a proper matter in which the Registrar of the High Court can make a determination on,” Motsamai states in court papers seen by Botswana Guardian. He added that in terms of a counter claim filed with the plea, Babereki Investment seeks to set off his claim with its counter-claim. Motsamai explains that, he is advised and verily believes that withholding his terminal benefits in an attempt to recoup alleged unliquidated damages the merits of which are yet to be determined, is against the dictates of the law.
On Wednesday when the parties appeared for arguments in the suit brought by Motsamai against his former employer, Leburu indicated that the counter-claim should be decided differently from the claim brought by Motsamai and the court should in its determination take into consideration that Motsamai had not filed opposing papers.
“The defendants indicate that I should say the counter-claim is not opposed. They say there has to be a ruling on that because there has been no opposition,” said Justice Tafa to Kanjabanga representing Motsamai who responded, “We have not filed opposing papers yet because of the application of irregularities.” At this point things nearly got out of hand as Justice Tafa and Kanjabanga argued on what should be done. Justice Tafa indicated to the lawyer that he heard his point and there is no need to elaborate it because he has been listening to him for two (2) hours.
He stated that the decision of the court does not come from the intelligence of an attorney but from facts before court and what the law says. Kanjabanga indicated that he was only trying to elaborate so that the court would appreciate the point he is trying to put across.
In arguments for Motsamai’s claim Kanjabanga stated that there is no material fact placed before court indicating that his client made decisions unilaterally. He said withholding the money owed to Motsamai is in contravention of the Employment Act. Leburu has however argued that the total amount of terminal benefits which include leave pay, gratuity and salary for September 2017 have been paid in full. “The total amount for the salary for September 2017 is P62 722. 25, Leave pay P45 730. 22, gratuity at P25 444.50.
The total is P133 896. 97. These would be the amounts covered under section 75, 79 and 81 of the Employment Act. The payment of the balance of the contract period is a damages claim and consequently not covered under the aforesaid provisions,” said Leburu. He told the court that such payment does not constitute wages and/or salary and/or emoluments as contemplated by the Employment Act.
In 2017, Babereki Board resolved to fire Motsamai allegedly over millions of pulas gone down the drain via multi-million investments at its subsidiaries - Future Sustain International and Fly Mission Services. Babereki Investment states that Motsamai entered into agreements with various companies and made payments to those companies without authorisation. As a result, Babereki Investment is claiming P4 919 769.88 from Motsamai.
Botswana Editors Forum (BEF) has welcomed as a positive development a decision by prosecution to drop charges of sedition against Editor of Sunday Standard Outsa Mokone.
Early this week when the case came for argument before Broadhurst Magistrate Court, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) revealed that it is no longer continuing with the case. DPP , represented by Wessen Manchwe, withdrew its opposition to the application that the case be dismissed. Mokone appeared in court to face a charge of sedition arising from an article published by Sunday Standard in September 2014.
Mokone is represented by Carlos Salbany of Bayford and Associates. Mokone faces the single count of sedition jointly with Tsodilo Services (Pty) Ltd the parent company of the Sunday Standard, arising from an article published on September 1st, 2014, titled “President hit in car Accident while driving alone at night.” The article revealed how former president Khama had been involved in a motor vehicle accident on the night of August 23rd, 2014.
In an interview with this publication this week, BEF Chairman Spencer Mogapi said they are naturally happy and welcome that the case has been dropped. He however stated that the case could have long been dropped or not been registered in the first place. He explained that the BEF recently met with President Mokgweetsi Masisi and expressed dissatisfaction about some of the laws sedition included which they believe infringes on the right of journalists to freely perform their work.
According to Mogapi, they remain hopeful that the current administration will work with the media, to address some of the key issues that affect the media including some of the laws they feel have been overtaken by events. “There are many of the laws among them Sedition, Media Practioners’ Act and National Security Law which make it difficult for journalists to do their work.
We would continue to engage the president and his government but we will give them chance to govern the country and we would continue to be available to assist where we best can,” he said. Mogapi explained that they are worried that the Media Practitioners' Law even though it has not been into use, maybe one day or in years to come, fall into wrong hands and those people would use it against the media.
BEF and other media rights groups have been calling for the repeal of the Media Practitioners' Act. Mogapi also warned journalist not to trust political parties saying they support the media when it best suits them. “Once you have a story that is negative about them they start attacking you. Of recent we had a senior opposition politician indicating that the Media Practitioners Act has to be put into use to punish some of the journalists.
This is just because some of the reports have not been favourable to them but in the past we know the opposition to have been sympathetic to the media and advocating for free press. Right now we see that they are in their comfort zone. So journalists should be mindful of these politicians across the political divide,” said Mogapi who also cautioned journalists to always support each other in trying times because no one knows when their time will come.
According to Journalists Without Borders 2018 Report on Media Freedom, Botswana’s international rankings have steadily declined under former president Ian Khama. In 2013, the first year Botswana was ranked, Botswana came in at 40th out of 180 countries.
Due to Khama’s persistent attacks on the media, calling it unpatriotic, alleging that the “media and its opposition lawyers” sought to undermine the constitution, the Report found, coupled with raids and arrests of media practitioners and media houses by state security agencies for exposing corruption, that Botswana’s media freedom ratings progressively dropped to 48th by 2017.
Alliance for Progressives (AP) President also Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe, has challenged government to consider a draft Bill they have availed for the reopening of BCL mine.Gaolathe has revealed that there is a fully-fledged Bill on BCL restructuring and revitalising of Selibe-Phikwe region.
According to Gaolathe they have already written a letter to Minister of Finance and Economic Development and Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security but there has not been any response. “In our letter we requested that they look at some of our proposals and take them into consideration. We are not saying they should take everything as it is and implement but we are saying look at our proposal and pick some because we believe they would be helpful.
We are also available to assist if they need such help from us. Until today we have not received any response from the two ministers and now we are surprised about the intention to reopen the mine,” Gaolathe told the media this week.He explained that in their restructuring plan they have proposed setting up of a Fund. Once the Fund has been set up, Gaolathe revealed that it would fund various activities such as joint ventures and partnerships with the private sector which would also make contribution towards that fund.
The second part of the fund according to the AP leader is for revitalisation of Selibe-Phikwe through a private equity fund. He explained that there is a huge scope for tourism and fertilisers in the Selibe-Phikwe region. “If the mine is to be opened the matter has to come to Parliament because government would inject some capital.
There are many things that will have to happen before the mine could be opened. The problem is that the current administration does not have the wisdom or good judgement. From the start the collapse of the BCL was as clear as daylight because all indicators were there to show that BCL would collapse. “We made contributions as to what could be done. Right now it is not clear as to what government wants to do in as far as the reopening of the BCL is concerned,” he explained.
Gaolathe says it is not clear whether government wants to go into partnership, whether the affected employees would all come back to work or a certain fraction of the over 5000 employees would be considered or not. “We do not know how transparent the process would be. How involved would be Parliament, especially Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises and its input,” he wondered.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has dismissed reports that government will reopen BCL mine. The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, stated that Government is not good at business and should give way where an opportunity exists for the private sector.
He said the Ministry and Government will not assume a similar role in BCL as in the past. The private sector will in their own determination, but facilitated by Government, assume any future investment in BCL, said Dekop. The PS indicated that the Minister has held discussions with the Liquidator on grouping the assets and liabilities of the mine expeditiously, so that any interested investor can purchase or assume part or all of such assets and liabilities.
This will enable those aspects of the mine that could be put back to life to resume business through private sector investment, he explained.
Chairman of Alliance for Progressives (AP) Maj. Gen. Pius Mokgware says his party will call for a commission of enquiry into the controversial procurement of Land Rovers from the United Kingdom by Botswana Defence Force (BDF). The BDF spent around P161 million for procurement of 500 second-hand Land Rover 110 Defenders.
The procurement of the obsolete vehicles was allegedly spearheaded by Office of the President early last year and BDP played no major role save for viewing and collection at Witham (Specialist Vehicles) Ltd - a UK secondhand seller. The OP has been at the centre of the controversial procurement although it refuted playing part in the agreement to purchase units of the Defender LR110 4×4 SUV for the BDF, at a cost of P161.9 million.
Major Gen Mokgware stated this week that they would seek through a motion in Parliament for an enquiry to be undertaken to establish why the BDF decided to buy such vehicles which are already experiencing breakdowns hardly a year later. “We demand that the recent procurement of very old military equipment be investigated.
We strongly believe that the procurement was not transparent. There are allegations that certain high ranking officers were given similar vehicles by the supplier. This was a waste of government funds,” said the AP chairman who is also Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mankgodi. Maj Gen Mokgware pointed out that should the motion be defeated as they foresee such from Botswana Democratic Party MPs they would seek other avenues.
“We will ask for Parliamentary Committee on Defence and International Relations to intervene and call the Commander or Minister of Defence Justice and Security to explain this mess”. BDF Director, Directorate of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole has stated that BDF procured last year what is called EXCESS DEFENCE EQUIPMENT from the United Kingdom (UK) Military. He explained that Excess Defence Equipment is equipment disposed of by an army, in this case the UK Army as a result of downsizing.
“This equipment ranges from never used to hardly used. Some of the Land Rovers were never used and others had mileages that read between 7000km to 50 000km. It is common knowledge that sometimes equipment, whether military or not that has not been in use for a while will likely display some form of minor mechanical faults that require minimal repairs,” said Colonel Dikole in an interview recently with this publication adding that any fleet - new or used - remains susceptible to mechanical failures as well as wear and tear.
Maj Gen Mokgware, a former army man himself, believes it was ill-advised to procure such equipment. He explained that the BDF should be moving with the times and buying appropriate equipment. “What is even painful is that we are wasting such funds while our security officers are disgruntled.
They are no longer promoted and stay in one rank for a long time, their conditions of service are very poor and they do not have accommodation. It is very dangerous to have such people disgruntled because it puts our security as a country at risk,” he explained.
China is expected to launch eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries in the next three years and beyond. President of China, Xi Jinping said when officiating at the largest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit meeting to date in Beijing China on Monday that to ensure that the eight initiatives are implemented, his country will extend US$60 billion of financing to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies.
This according to President Jinping, will include US$ 15 billion of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, US$20 billion of credit lines, the setting up of a US$10 billion special fund for development financing and a US$10 billion of investment in Africa in the next three years.
In addition, China will also exempt loans of Africa’s least developed countries, heavily indebted and poor countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries, due to mature by the end of 2018. Jinping’s optimism is fueled by positive results yielded from the 2015 FOCAC hosted on African soil in Johannesburg, South Africa, where 10 cooperation plans were adopted, and China has since fully implemented.
Since then, a large number of railway, highway, airport, port and other infrastructure projects as well as a number of economic and trade cooperation zones have been built or are under construction. “Our cooperation on peace and security, science, education, culture, health, poverty reduction, and people-to-people interactions has deepened,” President Jinping said.
According to the Chinese President, these 10 cooperation plans have brought huge benefits to the African and Chinese people, and have fully demonstrated the creativity, rallying power and efficiency of China-Africa cooperation and lifted China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to new heights.
President Jinping added that to build an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, China is ready to launch eight major initiatives that are expected to catapult China-Africa relations to even greater heights.
CHINA PROMISES TO; Launch industrial promotion initiative
China has decided to open a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China, where Chinese companies will be encouraged to increase investment in Africa. The country will also build and upgrade a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa. China promises to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, work with Africa to formulate and implement a programme of action to promote China-Africa cooperation on agricultural modernisation.
According to President Jinping, China will also implement 50 agricultural assistance programmes, provide RMB one billion of emergency humanitarian food assistance to African countries affected by natural disasters, send 500 senior agriculture experts to Africa, and train young researchers in afri-science and entrepreneurs in agri-business.
“We will continue to strengthen cooperation with African countries in local currency settlement and make good use of the China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs.
Launch an infrastructure connectivity initiative
China has decided to jointly formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation plan with the African Union (AU).“We will support Chinese companies in participating in Africa’s infrastructure development by way of investment-construction-operation or through other models, with focus on enhancing cooperation on energy, transport, information, telecommunications and cross-border water resources.
China also promises to work with Africa to undertake a number of key connectivity projects. “We will support African in developing the Single Africa Air Transport Market and open more direct flights between China and Africa.”China also pledges to facilitate bond issuance by African countries and their financial institutions in China. On the basis of following multilateral rules and procedures, China will support African countries in making better use of financing resources of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund.
Launch a trade facilitation initiative
China has decided to increase imports, particularly non-resource products from Africa. “We support African countries in participating in the China International Import Expo,” President Jinping said.According to Jinping, the least developed African countries participating in it will be exempted from paying exhibition stand fees.
China promises to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation on market regulation and between customs authorities, and implement 50 trade facilitation programmes for Africa. “We hold on a regular basis, marketing activities for Chinese and African brand produdcts.”
China also supports the building of the African Continental Free Trade Area and will continue to hold free trade negotiations with interested African countries and regions. In addition, China will set up relevant mechanisms to promote e-commerce cooperation with Africa.
Launch a green development initiative
China has decided to undertake 50 projects for green development and ecological and environmental protection in Africa to expand exchanges and cooperation with Africa on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.President Jinping said a China-Africa environmental corporation center will be set up and more policy dialogue and joint research on environmental issues will be conducted.
The China-Africa Green Envoys Programme will also be implemented to strengthen Africa’s human capacity for environmental management, pollution prevention and control, and green development. A China-Africa bamoboo center will also be established to help Africa make bamboo and rattan products. China will also work with Africa to raise public awareness of environmental protection.
Launch a capacity building initiative
China promises to share more of its development practices with Africa and support cooperation with Africa on economic and social development planning. According to President Jinping, 10 Luban Workshops will be set up in Africa to provide vocational training for young Africans. China will also support opening of a China-Africa innovation cooperation center to promote youth innovation and entrepreneurship. A tailor-made programme will also be carried out to train 1 000 high caliber Africans.
China will also provide Africa with 50 000 government scholarships and 50 000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops, and will invite 2 000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.
Launch a health care initiative
China has decided to upgrade 50 medical and health aid programmes for Africa, particularly flagship projects such as the headquarters of the African Centre of Disease Control and Prevention and China-Africa Friendship Hospitals. According to President Jinping, exchanges and information cooperation will be carried out on public health. Cooperation programmes will be launched on the prevention and control of emerging and reemerging communicable diseases, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
China is also expected to train more medical specialists for Africa and continue to send medical teams that better meet Africa’s needs. More mobile medical services will be provided to patients for the treatment of cataract, heart disease and dental defects. Targeted health care services will also be provided to women and children of vulnerable groups in Africa.
Launch a people-to-people exchange initiative
China has decided to establish an institute of African studies to enhance exchanges with Africa on civilisation. The China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan will be upgraded. Fifty joint cultural, sports and tourism events will be organized. China also welcomes Africa’s participation in the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Museum Alliance and the Network of Silk Road Art Festivals.
A China-Africa media cooperation network will be established. More African culture centers will be opened in China and more Chinese cultural centers in Africa. “Qualified African educational institutes are welcome to host Confucius Institutes. More African countries are welcome to become destinations for Chinese tour groups.”
Launch a peace and security initiativeChina has decided to set up a China-Africa peace and security fund to boost cooperation on peace, security, peacekeeping and law and order. China promises to continue to provide military aid to the AU, and will support countries in the Sahel region and those bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea in upholding security and combating terrorism in their regions.
President Jinping said a China-Africa peace and security forum would be established as a platform for conducting more exchanges in this area. Fifty security assistance programmes will be launched to advance China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, and in areas of law and order, UN peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy and combating terrorism.
Some 2000 delegates from across Africa gathered on Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda for the 8th annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018, aimed at developing strategies to increase yields and income for small holder farmers. According to AGRA, smallholder farmers produce about 75 percent of the food supply in Africa and yet account for 80 percent of the continent’s extreme poor people.
President of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr. Agnes Kalibata said time has arrived for Africa to create economic stability through Agriculture. She said that capacity and the capability to deliver in Agriculture, in Africa is a major challenge. She emphasised that Africa should aim at increasing the production yields when they think of food production in their respective countries.
Professor John Mellor said that over the past decade African countries have been doing well in economic growth although Agriculture production is still lagging behind. This is a result of factors such as weak access to market, inadequate extension services and poor irrigation facilities, to mention a few. He said the theme of the workshop “Lead, Measure and Grow” is relevant and urged all of Africa to find ways to grow through Agriculture and leadership.
In a plenary debate, a delegate emphasised that people should refrain from depending on rain to produce food. “Crops don’t need rain, they need water,” he said raising a concern that in some cases, crops die near water streams while people claim to be waiting for the rain to plough. He said that people should change their mindset and work hard to produce food and reduce poverty in Africa.
Agriculture transformation affects African human capital, therefore the need for coming up with implementable strategies. “Without leadership, Africa will not be able to consolidate the mandate of Agriculture transformation, so we urge member states to design policies and implement them,” said Prof Mellor. He also urged countries to increase youth participation in Agriculture and not only to teach them about farming but also producing, packaging and marketing.
He said Agriculture education and training are also essential to make a transformation in Agriculture. So far, Botswana has the best soil for potatoes in Africa. Ministers from different countries of Africa will tomorrow (Saturday) on the last day of the forum meet, to find the way forward for improving the state of Agriculture in Africa.