Players in the alcohol sector have once more asked government to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the country has any direct link to alcohol usage.
Last month, government moved to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the country, arguing the consumption of alcohol was the major reason cases of Corona Virus were on the rise. Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, the country’s biggest producer of clear and opaque beers has since taken government to court, calling for the ban on alcohol to be lifted as there is no evidence which suggests that the sector’s operation has fueled rising Covid -19 cases. KBL has since taken government to court on an urgent basis, calling for the ban to be lifted and allow the sector to trade again.
“The President has once more failed to prove in his responding affidavit that the alcohol sector is solely responsible for the surge in Covid-19 cases,” said an industry player in the sector which employs thousands of people around the country. “We find it strange that government is singling out the alcohol for the rise on Covid -19 cases, yet other sectors of the economy are in full operation and nothing is being said about them,” said Peter Noke, the Chairperson of Botswana Beverages Association during a recent press briefing. "As a sector, we have been compliant.
However, we are of the view that, there is limited law enforcement on the side of government. As an industry, we want the sector to open so that we can be able to monitor our members." The alcohol sector, which is already under distress due to the imposed Alcohol Levy, employs well over 50 000 people, excluding the over 200 000 people who depended on the sector. KBL, which is a subsidiary of Sechaba, a Botswana Stock Exchange, has in place a lot of initiatives which are aimed at ensuring safe opening of the sector. One such initiative, implemented by Botswana Alcohol Industry Association is ‘Di Nwele Dladleng', which encourages responsible home drinking of alcohol.
Players in the sector are questioning government real motives in closing the sector that pays millions of Pula in taxes annually. “We wonder why government is saying the sector is contributing to an increase on Covid -19 cases, yet since April last year, we have been operating on off-site consumption only. Up to this date, government has failed to name a single liquor outlet which has recorded Covid -19 case. We strongly believe government is using the alcohol sector as a scape goat,” said a concerned bar owner based in Gaborone.
The industry has had enough of the government’s big brother attitude of closing their businesses willy-nilly, oblivious to the damage caused to stakeholders involved, let alone, the economy. KOOBONYE RAMOKOPELWA picks up the lamentations echoing from the empty beer halls.
The decision to ban alcohol sales indefinitely is ill advised and shows that government is not taking into consideration that the sector, just like many others, plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. “Companies such as KBL (Kgalagadi Breweries Limited) play a very crucial role in the country’s economy. The company has invested heavily in Botswana, not forgetting the many employment opportunities it has created to many Batswana,” said one market player with knowledge of the alcohol sector.
The multi-billion-pula sector employs over 50 000 people, in addition to the over 200 000 people who are dependents. Government has banned the sale of alcohol without giving specific date when the sector will be re-opened. The government blames the sector for the rise on COVID-19 cases. “The alcohol sector needs to know when the sector will be opened. It beats logic why government has decided to announce date for the re-opening of schools following their closure while it has failed to do the same for the alcohol sector,” said the informant.
According to people familiar with investor attraction, government blanket closure of the alcohol sector and the tone of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s responding affidavit clearly shows a government ‘with little interest to investor attraction’. Kgalagadi Breweries Limited is owned by AB InBev, a foreign company as well as government through Botswana Development Corporation. The informant further told Botswana Guardian that, Botswana government should take a leaf from the way South Africa has been dealing with the alcohol sector amid COVID-19. “While the South African government has in the past closed and opened the sector on account of COVID -19, there has always been certainty on when the sector will be opened,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Botswana Beverages Association, Peter Noke has lambasted government for closing the sector without consultation. “Our members are under distress as some have not opened for well over seventeen months. We need to be consulted as we are also a sector which contributes to the country’s economic advancement,” said Nokwe recently. Government closed the sector last month, arguing it is responsible for the rise on COVID-19 cases. “Why are we being singled out? Other sectors of the economy are open and nothing is being said about them when it comes to COVID -19 spread.” Said a concerned Nokwe, who runs the Marriot Restaurant in Gaborone.
Nokwe said they support KBL’s case against government on the closure of the sector indefinitely. In addition, the BOBA Chairman said, government has found it fit to close the liquor sector, but it has not found it fit to bail it out. ‘Someone can ask, where is the Alcohol Levy funds during times like this? We continue to pay rentals. Some of our members’ assets have been sold to pay creditors’. Meanwhile, South Africa has since reopened the alcohol sector after closing it for about a month. In Botswana, industry players are concerned that, more and more liquor will be imported from South Africa illegally in the process denying government the much-needed import duties.
KBL spokesman, Masegonyana Madisa has been quoted by Mmegi newspaper as having said the ban will exacerbate the illicit alcohol trade and criminality in the country as well as the consumption of unregulated and unsafe products, while diverting taxation away from the fiscus.
“KBL is asking the High Court to review the President’s decision to impose the ban by setting it aside, while also seeking orders declaring that the imposition of a complete ban on the sale of alcohol be deemed unlawful and improper,” he said. “The company believes that the government’s wholesale alcohol ban is improper and not based on clear and objective evidence demonstrating a causal connection between the wholesale ban on alcohol and the reduction of positive Covid-19 cases.
” Madisa said while KBL continues to support reasonable and proportionate emergency safety measures that respect the rule of law, “the latest ban compounds the matter as KBL has, once again, ceased trade, yet its fixed costs and obligations to employees and suppliers, also remain unchanged.” KBL was last year forced to put workers on unpaid leave, cut salaries across the board and also stop payments to suppliers as a result of the alcohol bans.
The emergence of COVID-19 has burdened the health system and made the fight against HIV/AIDS heavier. However, the results of the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS V) are expected to enhance policy-making and planning.
Acting National Coordinator at National Aids and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA), Robert Selato says BAIS V survey has incorporated the COVID-19 pandemic and accommodated options for survey respondents to indicate for example, that they could not access health facilities because of lockdowns. The survey, according to Selato also has a portion on COVID-19 prevention and case management. Botswana government through the Ministry of Health and Wellness, NAHPA, Statistics Botswana, the US government, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, and other cooperating partners, are working together to implement the survey.
BAIS V is the fifth survey in a series of HIV/AIDS impact surveys conducted in the country, which has been an early leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Lead investigator, Dr. Manhattan Charurat from the University of Maryland Baltimore could not be more proud of Botswana. He said during the launch that Botswana is a global leader and model in the HIV/AIDS response and one of the first countries to adopt the HIV focus survey as an effective approach to the fight against the pandemic through the first BAIS in 2001.
“Botswana is also one of the first to adopt the ‘treat all’ approach as a way to fight the disease”, he said, adding that with Botswana surpassing the UNAIDS 90: 90: 90 target, BAIS V will provide the true picture of where the country is in relation to the pandemic control and show where new infections are occurring. “This information is crucial in helping Botswana and the US government to direct resources more efficiently to attain full pandemic control”, Dr Charurat said. Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Edwin Dikoloti said since the first AIDS Impact survey, Botswana has seen growth in such surveys with current surveys which take place every four to five years incorporating scientific vigour, representativeness, ethical considerations and the use of advanced technology.
“We have come from using paper-based questionnaires, anonymous HIV testing, to the use of smart phones to capture information and offering HIV testing only to those ready to receive their HIV results and link the positive cases to care”, Dikoloti said. Dr Dikoloti revealed that Botswana recently expanded antiretroviral treatment to include non-citizens, so that all PLHIV can access treatment for free at any public health facility. “Initiatives such as these draw us ever closer to ending the epidemic, but there is still more work to do”, he said, adding that Botswana should be proud to be a part of BAIS V and to continue the fight to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic and ensuring the availability of critical information to guide planning and decision making.
The US government, Centers for Disease Control Prevention and PEPFAR have been instrumental in providing the needed support to carry out the survey. “It is because of our collaboration, that we have gained a more precise understanding of HIV and AIDS in Botswana and have been able to apply our resources wisely and with maximum effort to achieve the goals of Botswana’s Third National Strategic Framework for HIV (NSF III) and the UNAIDS 95-95-95 Fast-Track initiative of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” Dikoloti said.
Afro Botho is set to roll out a series of contemplative practices dubbed ‘Afro Treats’, which are Body, Mind and Soul sessions curated for clients. The desire is for the client to pause from their busy schedules and take a much needed time to Relax, Rejuvenate and Reset. These services will be offered in Maun and the greater Gaborone.
The event comes amid the many challenges that many are faced with due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activating a lot of anxiety and fear. The events are to take place in October and according to MotherK Masire, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed as we navigate all of the changes simultaneously. It is during these times when self-care is crucial to good mental and physical health, she explains.
She further says that they have identified two beautiful spaces, and collaborated with them to offer these mental health sessions. An environment and its energy is critical for Afro Botho in providing holistic’ value added service hence the collaboration with Kana Jang at African Casa in Ruretse and Baratani Lodge in Otse to cater for clients in the greater Gaborone zone. Both places offer serenity and peace of mind.
They will host the inaugural Tea Meditation at Kana Jang at African Casa in Ruretse on October 25th. The second event is penciled to take place on November 1st at Baratani Lodge in Otse. Masire explains that Tea Meditation commune is an intentional time and space where they gather and enjoy tea primarily in silence, with time for discussion and questions.
“It is a quiet place to contemplate and grow ourselves, to detach from modern anxieties and stressors, and enjoy the moment. Just as one might use sound or movement as a focus for contemplation, tea facilitates physical awareness, stillness, and community,” she explains.
She further notes that the experience will afford their clients with time to enjoy meditative community experience, while learning skills and insights that can deepen their own contemplative practice and appreciation of tea. “It is beginner friendly, inclusive and trauma-sensitive - no previous tea or meditation experience required,” she explains.
The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has implored SADC Members of Parliament to unite and build resilient health systems, saying they are “the best defence against any health emergency”.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the plea on Sunday in a pre-recorded video message to MPs virtually attending the 47th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. He stressed that unity among the region’s lawmakers regardless of political affiliation as well as collaboration of member states would galvanise national and regional responses to the pandemic. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than one million people all over the world.
Ghebreyesus said: “Political leadership must be united across political party lines and between countries. We are all in this together. As parliamentarians, you have a critical role to play in demonstrating the solidarity that is needed so badly to defeat this virus.” On equity, Ghebreyesus implored the MPs to use their privileged positions as representatives of the people and as legislators to ensure distribution of treatment services and vaccines in a manner that reaches populations with the greatest need.
He underscored the need for regaining trust and the dissemination of accurate information during the COVID-19 crisis. “If we are to control this virus, it’s critical that countries share up-to-date information,” he said. Ghebreyesus is the first African to be appointed Director-General of the WHO. He became the first WHO official at his level to address the SADC PF, which brings together 15 national parliaments of southern Africa. He told the lawmakers that attaining development in the absence of good health was not easy.
“My brothers and sisters, COVID-19 has demonstrated that health is not just an outcome of development. It is a prerequisite. When we promote and protect health, we promote and protect jobs, businesses, education, gender equality, peace, sustainability and more,” he said. Observers said by referring to the MPs as “my brothers and sisters”, Ghebreyesus remarkably appealed to pathos, put himself on the same level with his target audience and thus regarded them as co-creators of knowledge and solutions.
The Director-General said working together would not only end the pandemic but “build the healthier, safer, fairer Africa we all want.” The SADC PF Plenary was held under the theme: ‘The Role of Parliaments in Strengthening Accountability during a pandemic: The Case of Covid-19.’ Ghebreyesus said a lot had been achieved in Africa towards containing widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and expanding testing. He, however, said many people were still susceptible and called for vigilance.
He stressed that the virus was still circulating, disrupting economies, upending health systems and jinxing efforts to respond to other communicable diseases. In some cases, immunisation programmes were being compromised, while politicisation of public health and weak governance and other challenges were creating gaps in which the virus could thrive.
The world is grappling with the increasing spread of COVID-19, and in addition to the direct health effects of the pandemic, education systems and student learning worldwide has been paralysed.
Over 1.6 billion children were out of school at the height of the pandemic globally, and over 900 000 from primary and secondary schools in Botswana.
Young Love, a non-governmental organisation in Botswana that is conducting educational programming in partnership with the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) took decisive and early action to ensure school-going children would not be left behind due to the pandemic.
They provided remote “low-tech” services via phone calls and SMS to provide educational instruction for students in 10 000 households across Botswana with no need of internet connectivity. According to Advocacy and Communications Manager Dorothy Okhach, they ran a rapid randomised trial and produced some of the first experimental evidence on minimising the fallout of the pandemic on learning. “Our results show that remote instruction by phone and simple SMS texts can reduce innumeracy by up to 52 percent for less than approximately P140 per child”.
The trial was run in partnership with the University of Oxford, Colombia University and the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and is now actively exploring partnerships with IPA and the World Bank, among other partners to replicate the results across contexts. According to Okhach, prior to the closure of schools as a result of the lockdowns, their in-school remedial education programme, Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL), had provided a large learning boost, reducing innumeracy from 30 percent to six percent across four of the 10 regions in Botswana. Teaching at the Right Level is a remedial education programme implemented in primary schools in Botswana by Young Love through a partnership with the Ministry of Basic Education, Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development, UNICEF and USAID.
Young Love has a memorandum of understanding with MoBE to scale the programme to all primary schools in the country. In addition to the low tech interventions, they produced an interactive radio show which was aired on RB2 for four weeks. The show incorporated elements of the numeracy curriculum and was aligned with the weekly activities that were sent out to the students. Over 40 percent of the households that received the interventions tuned in to the radio show. Implementation of the intervention was done concurrently with an evaluation to enable the organisation to generate some of the first rigorous evidence on what works to minimise the fallout of the pandemic.
According to Co-Founder and Country Coordinator of Young Love, Moitshepi Matsheng the programme reached over 20 percent of primary schools in Botswana in four regions namely, North East, South East, Kgatleng and Chobe. Digital programme findings indicate that a cohort of students received only text messages while others received both text messages and phone calls. The use of text messages alone reduced innumeracy by 34 percent.
A combination of SMS messages and phone calls reduce innumeracy by 52 percent. Both interventions increased learning mostly for students with larger learning gaps prior to the intervention.
Matsheng says both interventions are relatively cost effective and scalable if effected in a targeted manner. Parent engagement increased meaningfully as well. “Parents have been more engaged in educational activities of the
children more during the course of the intervention,” she says.
According to Young Love the demand for low-tech interventions is high, as 98 percent of huseholds wanted to continue the programme after four weeks.
Of the households that received the programme, 99 percent of parents want remote learning services. Their research also reveals the potential for parents to play a larger role in their child’s education.
Prior research has shown the parents serve as effective complements to school inputs, providing motivation and accountability to the traditional schooling system.
“We find that parents with light additional support can partially substitute schooling by serving as at-home teachers. This includes parents in both rural and urban communities and with limited to no formal teacher training.”
This, according to the organisation suggests potential for greater parent-teacher interaction around a child’s education.
While many schemes exist to facilitate parent and teacher interaction in school systems worldwide already such as report cards and parent-teacher associations (PTAs), results suggest that these built-in interaction points in low or middle-income country contexts might be substantially enhanced with simple, easy-to-engage learning content that parents can directly engage their child in at home.
Okhach, Advocacy and Communications Manager says their digital programming is a response to a need for continued education during a crisis.
“It is time to incorporate alternative approaches to education programming for continued learning to occur. This is the time to involve parents in the process of learning.
“Alternative methods of education programming will ensure that as a nation we do not have fallout during any other crisis.”
Young Love believes that low-tech solutions are cheap and feasible to deliver at scale, as both rely on phones and do not require internet access.
While only 15 percent to 60 percent of households in low and middle-income countries have internet access, 70 percent to 90 percent of households own at least one mobile phone.
“This high rate of access means these low-tech solutions have the potential to teach the masses in an era of unprecedented school closures, especially for low resource families with limited access to the internet and alternative sources of learning at home”.
According to the organisation, the results also have implications for school closure beyond the current pandemic. School closures occur during annual school holidays, other public health crises, natural disasters, and during weather-related shocks.
Through the pandemic, it has not only met its domestic requirements but taken a range of steps for global good
Covid-19 continues to exact a heavy toll worldwide. In India too, positive cases are rising. However, our effective domestic response has led to a significant improvement in our recovery rate, which is now 68.78%. The case fatality rate at 2.01% remains one of the lowest in the world.
High recovery and low-fatality outcomes can be attributed to proactive measures taken to deal with the outbreak from its early stages. We started screening Covid-19 cases a full 13 days before the first case was detected in India. We implemented full lockdown on the 55th day of the outbreak when we had only around 600 cases. Our public health response has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The government took rapid steps to augment health infrastructure. As Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi noted, India now has over 11,000 Covid-19 facilities and 1.1 million isolation beds. We have ramped up testing to over half-a-million tests a day, to be scaled up to a million.
India’s response has not been confined to meeting our domestic requirements. We have been significantly engaged with the international community in providing the leadership that the global situation demanded. As a responsible stakeholder in global health supply chains, we ensured timely access to essential drugs and medical items for over 150 countries, while meeting our own domestic requirements. We reaffirmed our position as the first responder to humanitarian crises in the region by deploying medical teams to help Maldives, Mauritius, Comoros and Kuwait deal with the pandemic. India also dispatched naval assets to the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles to deliver assistance. This demonstrated our strong commitment to the PM’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
From being a net importer of Covid-19-related medical items, we have emerged as a net exporter. Today, we are manufacturing over 500,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and over 300,000 N-95 masks every day. Our system has shown the necessary adaptability and agility to significantly ramp up production to go beyond our domestic requirements.
The repatriation of Indian nationals stranded abroad and the evacuation of foreigners from India to their home countries have been among the most successful aspects of our response. In the initial days, the ministry of external affairs had promptly set up a Covid cell and a 24x7 control room to assist Indian citizens abroad. The PM had also personally directed our heads of missions to extend all possible assistance to our nationals stranded abroad. Subsequently, the Vande Bharat mission, launched to repatriate our nationals stranded overseas, has been the largest exercise of its kind ever undertaken by the government and has demonstrated our capacity to effectively carry out complex humanitarian missions. Over one million Indians have returned under the Vande Bharat mission so far through flights, across land borders and on naval ships. We have been able to bring home Indian nationals from distant locations, and also facilitated the return of Bhutanese and Nepalese nationals stranded in third countries to their homes on Vande Bharat flights.
Rigorous screening of returnees by our diplomatic missions has ensured that the proportion of positive cases remains extremely small (less than 0.2%). Testing on arrival by the health ministry and state governments has helped detect these cases. The mission just doesn’t end with the arrival of our nationals. We are also mapping their skills on arrival to link them with companies for job opportunities.
There has also been no let-up in our diplomatic outreach during the pandemic. We have initiated and been part of several important conversations globally. Our Neighborhood First policy was on full display when the PM hosted a video conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) leaders early in the crisis — our first such engagement on Covid-19. He announced a series of measures to deal with the pandemic, including the creation of a Covid-19 emergency fund with a commitment of $10 million from India. We have also called for a better multilateral response to global crises in the future.
The PM has, on several occasions, including in the G-20 and Non-aligned Movement virtual summits, proposed the reform of multilateral cooperation by bringing people to the centre of our efforts. Our own initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure are prime examples of this approach. The decision of the G-20 on debt service suspension for developing countries, which India fully supported, reflects this people-centric approach.
At the virtual Global Vaccine Summit, the PM highlighted how India’s contribution to the global response in terms of sharing medicines was guided by our philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkum. The PM also hosted the first virtual bilateral summit with Australia, which was followed by the India-European Union summit. In addition, the PM has spoken to his counterparts from 61 countries during this period. The external affairs minister has spoken to foreign ministers from 77 countries. We have kept open channels of virtual communication to strengthen partnerships and deal with situations that require diplomatic engagement.
We have been constantly adjusting, adapting and innovating to deal with the changed reality, particularly in our engagement with the world. And in the process, we have been successful in elevating India’s profile as a constructive and dependable actor on the global stage.
[Harsh Vardhan Shringla is Foreign Secretary, Government of India]
[The views expressed are personal]
The giant diamond company Debswana has invoked the Force Majeure clause under the contract with all its contractors in the country and asked them to clear the site. The diamond giant attributed the Force Marjeure to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resultant public health and financial results, and the declaration of the State of Emergency by President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi on 31 March as well as the regulations promulgated in consequence of the pandemic and the emerging global financial crisis, which it is said has affected Debswana acutely.
In a letter dated 1st April 2020 co-authored by Mokwadi Koloka a Senior Commercial Manager and Ignatius Nfana who is a Lead Supply Chain the company warned all Contractors with active contracts with it that operations at the various Debswana facilities or locations will have to be either "shutdown or severely curtailed”.
The letter is titled “GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT: POSSIBLE FORCE MAJEURE NOTICE”, and was directed Contractors to (“the Contract”) entered into Debswana Diamond Company (Pty) Limited (“Debswana”). As the largest private employer in Botswana, Debswana said it has an obligation to its workforce, its contractors and their sub-contractors and the nation as a whole to "endeavour to ensure that there are no further infections in Botswana" and, or to prevent or limit the spread of infections in Botswana.’’
Given the above, the letter said operations at the various Debswana facilities or locations will have to be either shutdown or severely curtailed. Debswana held that COVID-19 and the extreme social distancing announced by Masisi are without doubt an "exceptional event or circumstance" which accords with the definition of an event of Force Majeure.
In Law Force Majeure refers to unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. Debswana told contractors that Senior Contracts Administrator, Debswana Contracts Managers on Site and any other persons responsible for administering "Your Contract will engage you in due course" regarding the ramifications of this event on the "specific contract you have entered into with Debswana" .
“You are further, notified to leave site (*as applicable) by end of business on Thursday 02 April 2020”.
The Contractor shall liaise with the Engineer or Project Manager to ensure that the process of leaving the site is smooth, including that of your subcontractors. "You are to use your best efforts to comply immediately with any reasonable instructions included in this notice and any instruction issued by the Engineer or Project Manager regarding adherence to safety protocols, protection of life and any materials, plant and the works".
On a good note Debswana states that its decision does not affect Contractors not based on site. Contractors providing essential services will be required to leave skeletal staff behind for Care & Maintenance (numbers to be agreed with Debswana).
Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has adopted the private online gaming as a way of supporting players and keeping their minds abreast with the game during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online gaming has kept players across the country active. With the current suspension of tournaments BCF has advised players to use the Lichess application to keep playing chess digitally.
“Most of the chess players across the country have downloaded the Lichess App and created user accounts. Vincent Masole set up a tournament called COVID-19 Lockdown blitz challenge which takes place everyday at 8pm to 10pm," BCF spokesperson Jade Tatolo said in an interview.
The most number of participants is 107 across the country including people in Maun region, Nkange, Masunga, Mochudi, Charles Hill and many more. All the National Team players also took their time to participate in the tournament. IM Providence Oatlhotse won most of the tournaments and as things stand the platform is highly competitive and has benefited both senior and youth players. This has seen 11 year old Thuto Mpene also playing out in the tournaments, after his parents registered him for the online platform.
"In my opinion this is the most intriguing chess activity we have ever had in the country. We thought having chess tournaments every weekend was a lot, now people are playing chess everyday. The commitment is remarkable. After this lockdown we will have improved players." Tatolo also implored other sport codes to also explore digital arenas where possible. This would help to keep out of boredom and just sitting idle at home having nothing to do in the era of innovation and technology there is a need take advantage of many technological advancements.
There has never been a better opportunity for creatives and innovators to step up and usher in new solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic than now. Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) supports some innovations that consumers may find useful during this time of restricted movements, extreme social distancing and many other preventative measures to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
MyFoodness Delivery App is one such innovation. It is one of the fastest growing delivery Apps in Africa, according to BIH. MyFoodness delivers to the consumer’s doorstep with contactless delivery. Users order on the App and pay digitally. Items that can be ordered from the App include groceries from Spar G-West, restaurant food from Kebbabish, The Daily Grind, Saffron, Eastern Crescent, Fego, Pizzahut and The Meatin Joint.
MyFoodness has fully trained their delivery staff to do ‘contactless delivery’, which they implemented recently to help their riders, restaurant partners and consumers stay safe and free from COVID-19. MyFoodness App is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Another App is ClassMate Online which makes home schooling more efficient.
This is an inclusive, Social E-Learning platform for students and educators to access educational content and promote collaborative learning. The platform currently offers educational Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) content such as syllabuses, past examination papers, education quizzes, e-library books, video tutorials.
With Classmate Online, education is not limited to the classroom teaching environment. Download Classmate from the Google Play Store. SkymartBW on the other hand is an e-commerce online marketplace that is transforming the local and regional industry. With SkymartBW, customers can purchase their products online at their own convenience and comfort.
Businesses can also pitch up a Sky Seller Store and sell their products and services online. SkymartBW has 210 merchants with over 7 000 items for customers to choose from. SkymartBW makes same day deliveries within Gaborone and surrounding areas and delivers within one to two days around Botswana through Sprint Couriers and DHL Botswana.
SkymartBW also has delivery partners; Botswana Post EMS, DHL International and Fedex Economy for the rest of the world. Another life-saving App is PriceMate that enables consumers to compare prices before shopping. It gives consumers easy access and an opportunity to compare products as well as services across the country for free before they embark on shopping.
Pricemate hosts shopping catalogues/specials from various merchants across Botswana, restaurant menus, newspaper front pages and it offers advertising slots for companies to advertise their products and services. The user-friendly website boosts more than 70 000 visitors to date. PriceMate is available on Google Play Store for android users as well as on its website.
Retention Range is another innovation, which is an Open Source Software Company manufacturing computers, parts, components and accessories. The computers have three packages namely; RETENTIONedu which offers desktops and laptops for schools and home running on RETENTIONedu Operating system; RETENTIONclassic offering desktops and laptops running on linuxmint operating system and RETENTIONlegacy Desktops and laptops running on Microsoft windows operating system.
RETENTIONedu comes pre-packaged with educational content for preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary students. The educational material is a combination of visual, audio, interactive, practicals and teaching aids that assist students in learning. The latest addition to the package is a desktop application for pre and primary school exercises and tests. These exercises and tests are currently offered online for free as a contribution towards education continuity in the face of the Covid-19. According to BIH Brand and Communications Manager, Kemiso Ben, in addition to these innovative solutions, BIH has a pool of developers who are ready to deploy the necessary solutions.