When the president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Lord Sebastian Coe was in town this past weekend, his address to members of the press lasted for only six minutes.
In his six- minute address, Coe was careful enough with words not to commit nor make any promises. The IAAF president picked his lines well and the only thing he repeatedly voiced was that he had met with key stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding athletics.
BG Sport was informed by the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) that Coe met with the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng and went on to have a meeting with the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). However, details of whatever was discussed behind closed doors remain a mystery.
Ahead of Coe’s visit, BAA had made it clear that it hopes that the IAAF president would assist them develop athletics locally. The biggest challenge has always been lack of funds, “We need that man to come to our rescue, we are doing well in 400m however we need to upgrade and include field events,” BAA president Thari Mooketsi had said.
Meanwhile, when he addressed the media, Coe said that he had a detailed discussion about the future of athletics in Botswana and how they can help the country. “We have discussed a range of issues ranging from coaching and ability to encourage people into the sport. We also talked about continuing to reform the sport and ensure it is in alignment with political leadership particularly around health and education,” Coe said.
Asked if there was any financial assistance Botswana could benefit from IAAF in the near future, Coe said that the BAA should apply for the Olympic Athletics Dividend to help with development.He further said that if BAA wants a training facility erected in Botswana, BAA will have to go through the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) and it will be their judgement about the best places to put the training venues and coach education programmes.
The BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba told this publication that they are pacing behind time to develop the BAA plot allocated in Block 8 Gaborone. According to him, the plot has been undeveloped for the past three years and they fear that it might soon be repossessed if they do not act fast.
“We cannot reveal deadlines of when to expect improvements however we remain confident that Coe will not neglect our cries, he has promised to offer us assistance,” he said.In other matters and speaking on the sidelines of the press briefing, Coe told BG Sport that Batswana should forget about the 2017 Makwala saga and move on.
The IAAF controversially barred 400m runner Isaac Makwala from running during the London World Championships over allegations that he might have contracted the contagious Noro Virus.It was for the very first time this year that Coe addressed Botswana about the matter directly. “What happened has happened and it was a long time ago, they should let it all go,” Coe said. BAA has also indicated that they have buried the matter and there is nothing more to it.
The listing of BancABC Botswana will allow the corporate and retail bank to tap into the local market for funding as well as cement its position as one of the market leaders in the cutthroat local banking sector, its Chief Executive, Kgotso Bannalotlhe has divulged.
The regulator, Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has approved the bank’s listing which is slated for 10 December 2018; a development which will see the country having four listed commercial banks. Bannalotlhe said listing will also be an opportunity to allow locals to become part of their family by buying their shares, an opportunity that ended when the parent company-African Banking Corporation Holdings was delisted from the domestic bourse years ago.
“Listing will provide us with an opportunity to bring boarder shareholders in the form of pension funds and institutional investors into our shareholding structure,” noted the bank’s top executive who ditched rival Barclays Botswana last year. To this end, the bank has invited selected investors to apply to purchase up to 180,525,000 ordinary shares at a price of P2, 00.
ABC Holdings has proposed to sell nearly 25 percent of the ordinary issue shares. According to Bannalotlhe, 30 percent of the offered shares will be offered to clients of the sponsoring broker, who may be the public. Motswedi Securities is the sponsoring broker.
Part of the proceeds of the listing will be used to fund the group’s IT infrastructure project, from which the local subsidiary, as the biggest, will handsomely benefit. The IT project will focus on acquisition of a core banking platform as well as banking channels upgrade. The new infrastructure is expected to also allow the bank to improve their digital banking channels.
The 5th biggest bank by asset in Botswana is, like its peers, affected by record low interest rates which affect the bottom line. The bank rate is currently at 5 percent. It is expected to be at this level for some time, an analyst at Inkunzi Investment, Jonathan Paledi has said in a previous interview with Botswana Guardian.
“Bank of Botswana is likely to maintain rates at current levels well into 2019 but downside risks remain given the benign inflation environment and any rate cut could likely dent the interest income line segment for these banks,” he told Botswana Guardian. Bannalotlhe said as a bank, they have a long term vision of the country, suggesting they view the record low rates as cycle which will eventually end. The bank is expected to open more branches in the country next year, effectively increasing the bank’s more than 300 employees.
The Bank of Botswana Governor, Moses Pelaelo has bemoaned small, fragmented financial systems and the snail paced development of the local banking sector despite the country’s macroeconomic and financial stability.
Speaking at the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) opening bell ceremony recently, Pelaelo said though the local financial sector is comparable in size to other countries in the region, it remains relatively smaller and less developed compared to that of its middle-income peers.
“Financial systems remain mostly small, fragmented and un-diversified, providing only limited services to an exclusive section of the population at a relatively high cost,” said central bank governor.Though trailing behind peers, over the past ten years the local financial sector has expanded rapidly, both in size and the range of services covered.
“In this period, cumulative growth of the financial sector, in real terms, has been almost exactly 100 percent, compared to 52 percent for the economy as a whole,” said Pelaelo.However, Pelaelo highlighted that legitimate and desirable developments in financial services may be held back, discouraged, or even halted by either over regulated or outdated regulation.
He said clear leadership, guidance and consultation on the desirable direction for the development of the financial sector includes reforms to the regulatory environment. “The Bank of Botswana strongly advocates for the updating of the Financial Sector Development Strategy, which is now two years past its end date of 2016,” said Pelaelo, adding that the central bank is aware that the key legislation is out of date or missing.
The governor highlighted that consultations are on-going between the Banking Committee, Botswana Financial Markets Committee and the recently established Financial Stability Council to help spur innovation and development of the sector.Meanwhile, Pelaelo said central bankers must also do their part to avoid the risk of what might be termed ‘reckless conservatism’, and embrace opportunities that not only meet customer needs but also, in many instances, reduce systemic risks.
He said where practicable, there should be some scope for easing the burden of regulations to allow innovations to be tested. Citing “sandboxes” and other proof of concept frameworks, adopted by countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Canada and South Africa, Pelaelo believes small scale experiments under live conditions while being exempt from some legal requirements to keep down start-up costs and remove constraints on innovation can be initiated.
Pelaelo highlighted that the South African Reserve Bank, working alongside commercial banks, recently successfully led the ‘Khokha’ project to test the viability of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) for processing wholesale interbank payments.
Internet Society Botswana, a Non-Governmental Organisation which focuses on the ICT sector has called on local stakeholders not to be left behind as the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenal starts to take centre stage globally, especially in developed countries.
The multi-billion sub-sector, which has now gained traction in mature markets such as the United States and Asian countries, can be best explained as a network which helps to connect multiple smart devices enabled with software, network connectivity and exchange information between each other and with the server.
This Tuesday, Chairman of Internet Society Botswana, Phuthego Chere told Botswana Guardian that, the Internet of things technology has arrived and it will provide local companies/service providers an array of opportunities to conceptualize and broaden their offerings. Currently key players in the IoT space include Amazon Web Services, Google, Oracle, Dell, Hitachi and Huawei.
“As a country we cannot afford to be left out from the IoT because it offers an opportunity for companies to achieve maximum efficiency and broaden products offerings. Local consumers will be able to enjoy benefits such as those which come with smart homes connected to IoT technology,” said Chere who has been in the telecoms industry for over 15 years.
In other developed countries especially in North America, individuals are able to control smart appliances from anywhere with their smartphones. “It is only a matter of time before most appliances are connected to the internet for easy use and management,” stressed Chere who owns an internet service provider, Metrotech in Gaborone. Available studies predict that by 2020, there will be 30 billion devices connected to IoT technologies worldwide.
Once IoT is in full motion in Botswana, companies will also be in a position to implement cost saving business processes systems, which will be of benefit to consumers. There is currently no piece of legislation which regulates IoT technologies. To this end, government is unable to curb challenges related to IoT such as data protection and privacy invention.
This explains why, Internet Society Botswana has embarked on a multi-pronged awareness campaign to sensitive stakeholders such as government, companies and consumers on the benefits and risks which come with usage of IoT technology. Chere stated that, as more awareness is created on the concept, consumers will increase and government will find it befitting to craft tailored legislation to regulate the sub-sector.
As one way of creating awareness on IoT, the Society is expected to host a networking dinner at the end of this month (November 2018). “The objective of the networking dinner is to bring all stakeholders such as government, private companies including consumers to deliberate on all pertinent issues regarding IoT and how as a country we can take advantage of this global phenomenon,” said Chere.
The dinner is expected to have presentations from various stakeholders such as government, telecoms companies, Non Governmental Organisations including a representative from Internet Society Global Corporates who will be invited to buy packages (a table of ten) for attendance purposes. “Funds raised will be used to part-fund the society’s secretariat as well as other ongoing projects country-wide,” added Chere.
Internet of Things (IoT) explained
The internet of things (IoT) is a computing concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves to other devices. The term is closely identified with RFID as the method of communication, although it also may include other sensor technologies, wireless technologies or QR codes.
The IoT is significant because an object that can represent itself digitally becomes something greater than the object by itself. No longer does the object relate just to its user, but it is now connected to surrounding objects and database data. When many objects act in unison, they are known as having "ambient intelligence."[Techopedia]
The Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) has put out an invite to Korean companies to consider increasing their participation in the local construction industry.BHC Chief Executive Officer, Reginald Motswaiso told Korean investors recently at the Botswana Global Expo that the local construction industry is not yet mature.
“Not many citizen-owned firms are at grade E and technological development in the construction is generally low, creating more opportunities in this sector,” said Motswaiso. According to the country’s procurement laws category E has no restrictions by nationality, therefore enabling 100 percent foreign owned companies to participate in the category.
“Grade E category is for projects whose contract value is over 40 million pula,” said Motswaiso, adding that entry of 100 percent foreign owned firms is still possible at categories reserved for citizen owned firms if citizen capacity is inadequate or not available. He said the 50 million pula or more tenders are open for local or foreign companies whether or not they are registered with PPADB.
Motswaiso said data indicates that lack of access to finance for small scale contractors due to insufficient collateral is one of the challenges faced by contractors, also coupled with skills shortage in areas such as engineering and architecture.Statistics highlights that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from construction increased to 1821.20 million pula in the second quarter of 2018 from 1776.20 million pula in the first quarter of 2018.
Motswaiso said the sector is largely driven by the government’s investment in infrastructure and the mining sector, especially activities associated with direct development of mines and indirectly.He said the infrastructure related to mining is roads, utilities and residential houses, adding that trends on investment in the construction sector indicate that the share of foreign investment in the construction sector has been consistently less than one percent.
However, construction boom is expected following the anticipated China loan to Botswana.Some of the leading Korean companies that have already made inroads in the country include Doosan, Daewoo and POSCO engaged in large-scale projects in the fields of construction, energy and resources management.
Meanwhile, Korea’s export development arm KOTRA said Botswana’s ranking as Africa’s most politically stable nation is the main attraction for Korean companies.