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Grand Phikwe plans to start in April

Staff Writer
Drivers of Selebi-Phikwe's ambitious economic diversification initiative are hoping to start the spadework on several projects in April, with all estimates showing that the national coffers will need strong additional support to prop up the various plans.

The initiative is being driven by the Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit, set up within the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning three years ago. Projects planned for Phikwe's diversification include tourism activities around the Letsibogo Dam as well as activities and leisure facilities in and around Selebi-Phikwe township. Other plans revolve around the agricultural and agro-processing, industrial, education and service and high technology sectors.

At least P13 million will be needed for the development of primary works around Letsibogo Dam and another P28 million for related small project funding. According to SPEDU, other projects which will need funding include the redevelopment of Anne Adams Park with costs pegged at P2.5 million over 18 months and the upgrading of Selebi Phikwe Stadium for an estimated cost of P1.5 million over the same period. Further funding will be required for several studies into the proposed regeneration projects that are expected to keep Phikwe afloat after BCL Mine closes down.

According to a 2006 study funded by the European Union, P12.3 million at 2005 values would be required for the Unit's administrative expenses over a six-year period, while more than P27.5 million would be required over the same period for various action plans including feasibility studies, promotional work, advisory services and the National Conference scheduled for later this month in Phikwe.

According to SPEDU officials, part of the funding for the various projects and studies will come from a pool of funds made

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up of repayments of loans given to BCL Mine and Tati Nickel from the European Union via the Government of Botswana.

Known as the Re-Employment Account (REA), this pool of funds has in the past been used for the construction of factory shells in Selebi-Phikwe and the construction of a water pipeline at Tati Nickel's Phoenix Mine. The European Union is also expected to lend assistance to the diversification initiative, under its Economic Diversification of the Mining Sector (EDMS) programme.

However, government is expected to shoulder the bulk of the funding requirements for Selebi-Phikwe's diversification.

SPEDU Marketing and Communications Director, Wazha Tema told Mmegi that the draft Regional Economic Development Strategy had detailed costs and budgets for the projects intended to be pursued.

"We have already done budgets; the draft Strategy has identified the projects and there are costs indicated.

We are going to present these at the National Conference and say 'this is what will need funding,'" he said. He stressed that stakeholders at the forthcoming Conference would provide further input to the draft Strategy, allowing SPEDU to approach government soon with a final document, including costs and budgets. "The Strategy is a draft because the upcoming Conference has to input and government will also have to approve it and look at the funding.

We are hoping that by April, we start implementing parts of the Strategy, perhaps looking at Expressions of Interest," he said.



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