Now that the dust has settled around the local 2018 Commonwealth Games medalists, I think it is time to address the elephant in the room. The past weeks saw pomp and fanfare as the nation celebrated and hailed of the local track and field heroes from the recently concluded 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Games is a competition comprising of 71 nations and territories which once formed part of the British Empire. The Games which are now on their ninth decade were staged in Australia and graced by 28 participants from Botswana. The athletes who secured podium finishes at these games have been hailed by different private entities for making the nation proud. The question now is what does making the nation proud mean and what does it not entail? How do we get to differentiate those who did and did not represent the nation well? If Botswana sent 28 athletes why was it that everyone now wanted to rub shoulders with only eight athletes and most importantly, why now when they are back from Gold Coast and not prior to that?
Where have these organizations been? Where were these private enterprises during the team send- off ceremony or did they miss the memo because it seems they only received the news about the medals at the end of the competitions. The national team was made up of athletes from lawn bowls, boxing, weight lifting, swimming and athletics. Why do we now see only a portion of the athletics squad being crowded by good Samaritans if Botswana was represented by 28 athletes? What message were these entities trying to communicate to the rest of the team that went to Gold Coast as well as to the upcoming athletes? If we can boldly say we are proud of the team that represented the country in Australia and in the same breath only call upfront eight athletes, I think we then have a serious problem. I am not saying reward everyone with the same token of appreciation as those that had podium finish but their participation and non-participation should not be overlooked nor belittled in any way. Instead all the team should be fully acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated. They made up the team and that helped to increase the numbers therefore we should be proud of them for reaching such a high level of participation and standing in the gap for our nation.
Their presence there even made Botswana to look good as compared to other African nations such as Tanzania, Lesotho and Malawi that had a small representation. If the country did not have for example, weight lifting or boxing delegation, there would not have been a mention of the name Botswana at the weight lifting or boxing events. Well, of course the athletes did not bring home medals, but they did represent the country in different sports and events and that on its own carries weight. Not just everyone gets to participate at the mega sports events or elite levels as there are certain standards that needs to be met, therefore the hard work that the athletes had invested in order to represent the nation at these events should not be taken for granted. We cannot now sideline those who did not bring home the medals and glorify the medalists only.
On the same breath, I wish to commend Orange Botswana for their solidarity gesture of acknowledging the effort of all the 28 athletes by awarding tokens of appreciations to all of them. This here is a symbol of true sportsmanship spirit as it capsulate the spirit of unity, team work and mutual interest. In track and field events, we see athletes giving each other a pat on the back or a hand shake after completing a race to signify solidarity and sportsmanship. Even the athlete who finished first would wait to congratulate the athlete who came last. That is what sports is all about and if companies are to jump in they should dance to the music of sports.
The athletes live to inspire and to be of good example to others, leading a life shaped by the spirit of Olympus. If we are to sing their song, we should sing it right. We cannot now divide the team because others did not bring home medals. That is not setting up a good example to up and athletes. Not only does it put pressure but it is also make representing the country a dreadful and daunting endeavor. We were represented by Team Botswana and it should remain thus and be acknowledged as thus. The other disturbing element is the overall silence of the private entities during the training and team send -off stages. The athletes are left to struggle alone during training and then crowded when they bring home medals. These athletes work tirelessly with nothing when preparing for major events and local private companies don’t come forth and jump on board to acknowledge they are preparing for such an event and provide tokens of assistance as they are on the way to represent the country.
The lack of support during training symbolizes a lack of confidence on the capabilities of the athletes and a lack of allegiance. Sharing in the glory of the athletes when they now come with medals is like wanting a share of profits in a business that you refused to invest in. If they are representing us as a nation as we claim in these international competitions, why not walk the journey with them? Why not partner with them all the way up to the medal stages and not only when there is a medal and then treat those who didn’t bring home medals like they have leprosy? Are we saying only those who brought medals were the ones representing the country? It seems that we don’t want to do the dirty job and only want where the job has been done for us, we only want to associate with those who are shinning yet we don’t want to do the dirty work of polishing them. If companies could have stepped up and invested in the training program of the athletes, I believe we could have send even a bigger delegation to the Commonwealth Games as well as bringing home more medals.
Throughout the season the athletes are left at the mercy of the coaches who sacrifice their personal resources to train the athletes and I think we can do better than awarding the coaches the little pennies that they have been given and to equally give them a befitting VIP treatment during the welcome ceremonies bearing in mind that these coaches offer free services throughout the season using their personal resources. I think we can do better than this as a nation and I hope companies will start now to come forward towards assisting with the preparations for the next edition of the Commonwealth Games and not wait for the athletes to come with the medals. Sports is a business and just like any business endeavor, for there to be returns there should have been an investment first. The private entities should stop the coward mindset and gain the courage to invest in this viable and lucrative market.
It is time now for bold decisions. We need to shape the future of Botswana sports that we as Batswana want to see. We cannot let this one pass and slide like other issue. If we want change, deliberate interventions should be made and lest anyone should have an excuses of missing the memo, the next edition of the Commonwealth Games will be in 2022 in Birmingham and I hope in the spirit of true sportsmanship, we shall see companies coming forth now to prepare for this major event and not to wait for 2022 when the athletes return from the Games.
G4S Botswana, an integrated security company remains optimistic to deliver strong performance in the next three years as they continue to focus on growing technology enabled revenues, strong market positions and commercial discipline.
The group recorded 16 percent in profits to P31.2 million in its year ended December 2017, revenue increased by 2.2 percent to P218.5 billion bolstered by category mixed benefits while new business gained positive contract adjustments. Cash outsourced services increased by seven percent due to enhanced demand and customer retention.
Commenting on the published results, G4S group Chairman Lebang Mpotokwanne said they remain steadfast in their strategy to push ahead with deployment of integrated security solutions which aims to combine both technology and manned security as they seek to retain and expand the existing contracts.
“Notwithstanding a weak trading environment, we continue to liberate resources and we will continue to bolster our key relationships and invest in our customers through bundled technology offerings and re-aligning our mandatory risk assessments,” said Mpotokwane.
The cleaning, security systems registered growth of over three percent and one percent respectively while facilities management segment declined by 27 percent. Mpotokwane said their strategic priority to drive a balanced top line growth by enhancing service offering through innovative mediums is yielding results as they continue to broaden and deepen the customer base.
He said their strategic plan continues to bear fruit and is currently driving recovery of Electronic Security and growth across all segments, particularly in the security solutions. G4S Botswana is a unit of London Stock Exchange listed group, G4S plc.
Letshego, the Pan African micro-lender this week disclosed that ‘deduction at source’ is the main reason the company has managed to diversify its product range, become profitable and expand across the continent. Writing in the company’s annual report released on Wednesday afternoon, Chairman of the group Enos Banda stated that, Letshego said deduction at source business ‘remains core to our business strategy and is the foundation on which our diversified solutions are built, and from which all our customer offerings emanate. We made good progress during 2017 in defending, diversifying and growing this part of our business in our key markets. We expect this to continue into 2018’ Established from humble beginnings in 1998, Letshego is now a formidable business in the continent and still depends on governments employees for its micro-lending services, although they have now diversified into formally-employed workers. “With the launch of the All-in-1 solution LetsGo, we envisage a step-change in operations, business efficiencies, risk mitigation and most importantly, the customer journey and experience,” noted Banda.
Since the company opened its doors twenty years ago, there has been competition from all fronts, both locally and abroad as well as tightened regulation. However, Banda said they are up to the challenge.
“Through our tailored solutions, understanding of our target segments and strategic partnerships, our ability to understand the specific needs of our target markets will enable us to differentiate ourselves from the increasing competition. Today our competition arises not only from traditional banks and financial institutions, but also from fintech and mobile network operators,” said the confident Banda.
The company which is among the biggest at BSE by market capitalization is also capacitating subsidiaries’ boards to enable them to take independent and effective decision. “Strong governance and leadership is undoubtedly a key factor in high performance,” said the Chairman. For the year to December, Letshego’s profit before taxation was P1 billion, which shows a 6 percent growth year on year. “Our results reflect progress in achieving our strategic goals, diversification of our operating model and provision of innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers,” commented group Managing Director, Christopher Low.
Gross advances expanded by 17 percent to close at P8, 2 billion. He said that although revenues and profits showed positive growth, there is still much to be done on achieving and maintaining sustainable growth rates over the long term, while mitigating business risks - further diversification in country and solution portfolios will assist achievement of this. “We are confident we now have the tools to enhance our impact and enable every market to move closer towards their growth potential,” he added.
Director of Investment Promotion at SPEDU Benedice Sibanda has appealed to residents of Selibe Phikwe to cleanse their minds of the ‘mine era’ and start focusing on other avenues to diversify the SPEDU region as it commands tangible economic value.
He was speaking at the annual SMME Pitso hosted by Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) last week. Sibanda said that even though locals are not as forthcoming as they had anticipated to engage and to start businesses in the region, the zone is more than ripe for business activity.
“The SPEDU region is loaded with economic opportunities from Hospitality, to tourism, Recreation, Horticulture and Agriculture. Let us unpack what we have long neglected,” he said.
Sibanda noted that the SPEDU Region is strategically placed as the gateway into northern side of SADC Region through well-developed networks of roads, rail, air and commercial border infrastructure.
It also conveniently connects Botswana with the South African seaports, notably the renowned port of Durban through an excellent network of roads and up to five borders notably Platjan and Martins Drift border posts.
“This is to show that in terms of accessibility, the region puts any business at an advantage” he said. He implored locals to create demand and bring value propositions to start businesses.
“We at SPEDU have succeeded and continue to develop the region to better house local businesses, the land is ready for use, allocated and fenced, electricity has been provided, water is more than abundant, all that is left is for Batswana to come and do business.”
In fact, as an upside the region is home of five of the country’s major dams, the Thune Dam, Letsibogo Dam, Lotsane Dam, Dikabeya Dam and the Dikgatlhong Dam. It boasts highly fertile soils and a climate conducive for agriculture, especially horticulture production. The availability of land for industrialisation in Selebi Phikwe and the region, infrastructure resources, abundant natural attractions, flora and fauna, natural resources such as granite, sandstone, marble and silica sands open up opportunities for industrialisation.
However, Sibanda is not pleased on how government institutions work disjointedly saying this can cause sluggishness and discourage locals from benefitting from what the government has to offer.“It causes unnecessary delays that Motswana has to move from pillar to post to get services that could be boxed in one.” He urged institutions to come together to collaborate and serve Botswana better. A Youth Development Fund (YDF) beneficiary for example should be able to come to one place to seek assistance on what CIPA, SPEDU, BDC, CEDA can offer and in that way, “We as a country will better benefit as a whole, let alone the shift that could happen economically as this could be the push locals need to flourish”.
The economy of the town of Selebi Phikwe and its rural hinterlands historically relied on copper/ nickel mining and smelting since the inception of the town in the early 1970s. In order to diversify the economy, the Government of Botswana set up the Region as a Special Economic Zone with the intention to support industrialisation through the economic sectors of Tourism, Manufacturing and Agro-Business. This is in recognition of the inherent comparative advantages of the region evidenced by availability of ample surface and underground water resources. The region is located in the Central District of Botswana comprising four geographical areas of Bobirwa, Tswapong North, Sefophe, Mmadinare and Selebi Phikwe town housing a population of about 200,000 inhabitants.
Selebi Phikwe serves as the commercial nexus of the SPEDU Region with about 49, 411 people, making up approximately a quarter of the entire population of the Region.
Barclays Bank Botswana last week unveiled the refresher digital app to allow their customers convenience to bank with them from anywhere at their own time.
According to Barclays Retail Director, Brighton Banda, the Barclays Mobile Banking App is expected to ease their customer’s lives in terms of digital banking. He said the mobile app was first launched in 2012 and has been upgraded to offer customers a better banking experience. “In 2017, we decided that our App needed a facelift to be competitive with similar offerings in the market and in March 2018, we are able to avail the re-fresher App to our customers and we have seen a positive response by the number of the daily app uploads,” explained Banda. He said the business has identified Digital Banking as a critical element that is needed to drive their strategy now and in the future. “Our commitment towards this strategic pillar is underpinned by our current heavy investment towards maintaining, upgrading and developing our digital platforms,” said Banda.
The refreshed App now has a new look and feel, includes airtime purchase, M-Wallet to Myzaka and Orange Money. This means that through the App one is able to transfer their money from the bank account to My Zaka and Orange Money.
Banda said the airtime purchase functionality has the ability to pick a number from the contact list on the phone rather than inputting the number in the traditional manner. Head of Marketing and Corporate Relations-Barclays, Duduetsang Molloy reiterated that, as customers spend so much time online, on their phones, on the Internet, they are forcing banks to be innovative and provide platforms for them to bank wherever they are. “Barclays Bank Botswana embarked on a digital journey nine years back and today provides convenient banking across almost all its digital platforms being; mobile, internet and through the vast ATM network of 113 i-ATMS,” said Molloy.
Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) officially launched the “Tip-Offs Anonymous Hotline” anti-fraud hotline during the recent SMME Pitso. The hotline is a tool that stakeholders, including customers and the public can use to report any unethical conduct. Launching the line, Senior Manager of Deloitte; Brian Watts explained that whistle blowing will promote good corporate governance and ethical business conduct in line with the Authority’s values.
“Five percent turnover is lost to fraud, and 50 percent of fraud cases go undetected, while 14 percent of those identified are sourced internally. Tip- Offs Anonymous line is put in place as a deterrent to fraud and promotes a culture of zero tolerance towards these crimes.”
He said Tip-Offs Anonymous supports an ethical workplace culture and empowers staff, customers and the public to report unethical behaviours and practices in a safe and confidential manner – free from the threat of victimisations and retribution. The Tip-Offs Anonymous service is available for stakeholders to use and report any cases of fraud, corruption, harassment, theft, abuse of property and any other workplace related crimes.
He said too often, these crimes are undetected and go unreported, resulting in financial losses to organisations and eventually to the detriment of the taxpayer. Brain Watts from Deloitte Consulting told the pitso that the highest detection method of fraud, theft and corruption is through tip-offs and it is in this regard that LEA has implemented this important tool to combat fraud. The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) was established by the Small Business Act of 2004 to carry out on behalf of the Government of Botswana – and more specifically the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) – the mandate of entrepreneurship and enterprise development in Botswana.
Through the guidance of the Quality Management System Standard, the high quality of service is standardised in all the branches and clients are thus guaranteed excellent service in the whole LEA branch network, regardless of location. The 13 branches are in Francistown, Gaborone, Ghanzi, Kanye, Kasane, Masunga, Maun, Mochudi, Molepolole, Ramotswa, Selibe-Phikwe, Serowe and Tsabong.